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Amethyst Gemstone Information

About Amethyst - History and Introduction

Amethyst is the most precious and valuable stone belonging to the quartz group of minerals, with exception to rare blue-green gem silica. It is recognized as the official birthstone for the month of February. Amethyst belongs to the macrocrystalline branch of quartz and owes its violet/purple color to iron and aluminum impurities. Without such coloring agents, amethyst would simply be transparent, ordinary colorless quartz. Like other varieties of macrocrystalline quartz, amethyst has transparent to translucent clarity and a vitreous luster. Cryptocrystalline varieties of quartz almost always occur with translucent to opaque clarity.

Amethyst Versus Citrine

Amethyst is the violet-colored sister stone of golden citrine quartz. Color-zone ametrine is the bi-colored combination of both amethyst and citrine. The only difference between amethyst and citrine is the level of iron impurities in amethyst. When amethyst is heated at high temperatures of around 470ºC to 750ºC, iron impurities are reduced and can turn violet amethyst into golden 'heated' citrine. Lower grade amethyst stones are often heated to produce golden colored citrine stones. Heated citrine will typically appear more reddish when compared to unheated citrine.

Since purple is considered to be one of the royal colors, amethyst has a historical importance as an insignia of power. Fine amethysts are featured in the British Crown Jewels and they were also a favorite of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty. Amethyst also holds a high place in the ranks of the Christian church and was referred to as "the stone of bishops". The Greek word "amethystos" translates into "not drunken" and it was often worn as an amulet to protect against intoxication. Since amethyst was considered an antidote against drunkenness, many wine goblets were carved from amethyst stone. Still to this day, violet-purple amethyst is a symbol of sobriety.

Purple-Violet Amethyst
Natural Amethyst Gemstone
Identifying Amethyst Back to Top

In artificial light, amethyst does not display its best color. Amethyst looks best in daylight; more precisely, slightly after sunrise or just before sunset when the light is soft and warm. Amethyst is distinguished by its violet-purple colors. The best specimens should have a deep purple color and good saturation with minimal color zoning.

Amethyst Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top

The most important amethyst deposits are in Brazil, namely the "Palmeira" amethysts of Rio Grande do Sul and the "Maraba" amethysts of Para. Other significant amethyst deposits are located in Bolivia, Canada, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Russia, Sri Lanka, United States (Arizona), Uruguay and Zambia.

Buying Amethyst and Determining its Gemstone Value Back to Top

Amethyst Color

Amethyst owes its color to iron and aluminum impurities. The colors range from purple and violet to pale red-violet. The deep colors are the most valuable, particularly a rich purple with rose flashes. "Siberian" deep purple amethyst with red and blue flashes command the highest prices. So-called green amethyst is produced by heat treatment, but since amethyst is defined by its purple color, green amethyst is not considered to be a true amethyst.

Amethyst Clarity and Luster

Fine amethyst is transparent, which means that the light passes through the stone unhindered. In translucent amethyst, the passage of light is slightly weakened as it travels through the stone. The best quality amethyst is "clean" and free of visible inclusions of any kind. Since amethyst is quite plentiful, there is little reason to buy stones with visible inclusions.

Amethyst Cut and Shape

Due to the variability of the color distribution in the amethyst crystals, it is often cut as brilliant rounds or ovals to maximize the color. Very rarely will amethyst be cut en cabochon. Other shapes and modified cutting styles are quite popular, but typically, only amethyst specimens with good color distribution are cut into fancy stones. Amethyst is available in just about every shape, cut and size. Calibrated sizes are easily found and fancy shapes such as trillions, hearts and shields are very common. Many artisans prefer to cut ornamental carvings with amethyst stone and so there are many amethyst carvings available on the market today.

Amethyst Treatment

Amethyst quartz is typically untreated. Some amethyst stones may be enhanced though heating, but heating of amethyst will reduce coloring agent and result in 'heated citrine'. Gemstone suppliers should always advise disclose any enhancements. Heat treatment of 878ºF to 1382ºF will typically yield light yellow, red-brown, green or colorless results.

Amethyst Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Chemical Formula: SiO2 - Silicon dioxide
Crystal Structure: Trigonal; hexagonal prisms
Color: Violet, pale red-violet, purple
Hardness: 7 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.544 - 1.553
Density: 2.65
Cleavage: None
Transparency: Transparent to semi-translucent
Double Refraction / Birefringence: +0.009
Luster: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Weak - bluish
Amethyst Gemstone Varieties or other Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Natural Golden Citrine
Golden Citrine

There are many different varieties of quartz gemstones, and most are based off optical properties such as color and crystal structure, but other varieties refer to origin or another inhabitance trait. Locality based trade names are used mostly by gemstone sellers or collectors only.

Quartz stones can be classified into one of two branches, cryptocrystalline and macrocrystalline. The two varieties can be distinguished by transparency and luster. Amethyst is a macrocrystalline and there are many other similar varieties of stones.

Most Popular Amethyst Varieties:

Rose Quartz, Chalcedony, Agate, Rutile Quartz, Ametrine, Citrine, Star Quartz, Cat's Eye Quartz, Golden Quartz, Carnelian and Chrysoprase are most Popular Amethyst Quartz Varieties.

Lesser Known Amethyst Varieties:

Sardonx, Onyx, Mystic Quartz, Strawberry Quartz, Aventurine, Rock Crystal Quartz, Blue Quartz, Hawk's Eye, Prasiolite, Blood Stone and Chrysocolla Chalcedony (Gem Silica) are of the rarer and lesser-known Amethyst Quartz varieties.

Amethyst Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top

The legend of the origin of amethyst comes to us from Greek myth. Dionysius, the god of intoxication, was angered one day by an insult from a human and swore revenge on the next mortal that crossed his path. Violent tigers should carry out his wish. Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana was to become the victim. Diana turned Amethyst into a stature of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god's tears stained the quartz purple, creating the famous gem.

Amethyst is the birthstone for those who are born in February or for the Zodiac sign of Pisces.

In Antiquity, as well as in the Middle Ages, people believed that the cosmos is reflected in gemstones. The amethyst is assigned to the planet Neptune. The esoteric movement revived the ancient believe and the gem industry made it another marketing tool to promote certain gems.

The healing powers of gems remain a controversial issue, but are mentioned for centuries by healers, shamans and medicine men. Whether its a fact or a placebo effect, it doesn't really matter as long as it helps or benefits those who wear them. To achieve the most benefit from your gemstone, it is suggested to wear the stone in direct contact with the skin contact, especially the targeted troubled area of the body. Amethyst is said to be of help for headaches, pancreas, backache and alcoholism.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed practitioner. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements made and cannot be held liable under any circumstance.
Amethyst Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top

Amethyst is ideal for any type of jewelry design because it is considered both hard and durable. Amethyst stones are typically worn as pendants, necklaces or rings. Due to amethyst having a purple-violet color, many believe that amethyst should be worn by feminine personalities. However, purple is a color of royalty and royalty has no gender preference. Therefore, it is an excellent choice of stone for man or woman. Amethyst is harder than most other materials, so it is very resistant to wear and tear. Amethyst is a favorite for many jewelers because of the large sizes and shapes available. Amethyst is the most popular purple-violet colored gemstone on the market today, followed by blue-violet tanzanite, spinel, sapphire and iolite.

Caring for your Amethyst Gemstones and Gemstone Jewelry Back to Top

How to Clean your GemstonesAmethyst can easily be cleaned with warm water and a mild soap. Wipe down amethyst using a soft cloth or toothbrush. Amethyst is quartz and although it is relatively hard and durable, there are a number of other gemstones capable of easily scratching amethyst. Therefore, take caution and do not place other harder gems near amethyst when storing, cleaning or wearing amethyst jewelry. As with most other colored stones, do not use harsh household chemicals when cleaning amethyst gemstone jewelry. Avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat, because heat can cause permanent damage to the gemstone. When storing amethyst, always store jewelry inside a fabric-lined box or wrap it in a soft cloth. Amethyst should be stored separately from other stones, whether of whether or not they are harder or softer.

  • First Published: August-12-2006
  • Last Updated: April-16-2014
  • © 2005-2014 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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