The Gemstone Amethyst

What Is Amethyst

Amethyst is a variety of quartz that is basically of violet color. However the color may range from light pinkish violet to deep purple.
The accepted ideal is called “Deep Siberian” that has mainly purple color with minor parts of the blue and red spectrum.

Amethyst was considered the most precious stone within the quartz family until large deposits were found and the grading of Amethyst went from precious to semi-precious. As purple is considered to be a royal color, this gemstone was a favorite amongst high ranking royals, and also Christian leaders.

The name stems from ancient Greek, meaning “not intoxicated”. In ancient Greece drinking bowls were made from Amethyst and believed to prevent intoxication.
It has been used as decorative item and jewelry since ancient history.

If overexposed to light, the color of Amethyst can fade. The color may also be artificially darkened by exposing it to ionizing radiation.

Ionizing radiation is a process where the structure of the base material is altered in order to change it’s properties.

Irradiation that brings about the color of Amethyst is also occurring naturally. It is a natural process where silicon is substituted by iron-containing material in the structure. Also various trace elements are present.

The quartz crystal is normally colorless, but impurities will give it various colors depending on the material introduced.
So, the various, beautiful colors of gemstones based on quartz is actually defects in the crystal structure, or so-called color centers.

There also exists a green variation of quartz which is wrongfully known as green Amethyst. It should rightfully be called Prasiolite, Vermarine or Lime Citrine and is a result of heat-treated Amethyst.

How Is Amethyst Formed

Amethyst Geode

There is no absolute conclusive scientific proof of how Amethyst geodes are formed, probably because there has been little interest to research this particular formation called geodes which, in essence, are rocks that contains various types of crystals within.

However, there is little doubt that there must be a cavity in the rock formation to allow crystals to form within the rock.
Usually the hollow rock is a result of magma coming up to the Earth’s surface with gas bubbles trapped inside the cooling lava.
Amethyst can therefore be found anywhere on Earth where magma, or lava, has penetrated the surface.

Over time, the gas, or steam, is leaving the cavity through developed cracks in the hardened lava and silica rich liquid is entering. Traces of iron is also present, either in the liquid or in the rock itself, and as the liquid slowly is evaporating from the cavity the silica with impurities, in this case mainly iron, is beginning to form crystals, which mainly due to the iron content, will have a purplish color.

There has also been found Amethyst crystals formed as stalactites, i.e. they form at the roof of a cave where silica rich water start dripping, each drop will contribute to the building up of a deposit of crystals.

When the water also contains iron, the resulting stalactite crystals will have a purple color. This process may go on for millions of years and build up sizeable columns of Amethyst crystals.

Where Can It Be Found

The largest deposits of Amethyst is found in Brazil, but they can be found in many areas around the world like Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Germany, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, USA and Zambia.

Uruguay is also a major producer of Amethyst crystals, and is the only significant area where Amethysts formed as stalactites are found.
Zambia, in Africa, is one of the largest producers at present, with an annual output of about 1,000 ton.

The largest Amethyst found was in Mexico which is said to have been 33 by 16 by 10 feet and weighing over 8 tons.
Otherwise large Amethysts weighing in the range of 700 carats have been found and are considered to be amongst the unusual large ones.
Synthetic Amethysts can, however, be produced in larger sizes.

Natural Amethysts can be found in thousands of locations around the world but in small quantities in many areas.

The recent development of synthetic Amethyst has led to products that are similar to the natural stones with regards to both chemical and physical properties and can be difficult to distinguish from the natural ones by non-gemmologists.

You may sometimes find these offered as natural stones and only advanced gemmological testing can reveal whether or not the stone offered is natural grown or synthetic.

Very nice imitation Amethysts can be found at suppliers of beads for the fashion jewelry industry like

Firemountain Gems & Beads among many others.

One of the most significant manufacturers of crystal beads is the Austrian crystal gem company

SWAROVSKI

The quality is very good, the beads keep their color and shine for a long time and the price is very reasonable.

Serious suppliers of imitation stones, like those mentioned above, state clearly that these stones are imitations.

What Is The Value Of Amethyst

Amethyst was regarded as one of the most precious gemstones and in the class of Diamond, Sapphire and Emerald until the 18th century.
Due to discovery of very large deposits in Brazil and some other areas, it has been declassified, by many, to a semi-precious gemstone and its value has dropped.

However, quality Amethyst gems has seen an increase of abt 80% since 2005 and the trend looks set to further increase.

To invest in Amethyst, or other gems may not be such a bad idea, but uncertainty is there, of course, as in most types of gems and jewelry items, it largely depends on shifting fashion and collector’s preferences.

Abt US $7 – US $55 per carat depending on the shade of purple, the darker the color is, the higher the value.
Actually you may find very pale colored Amethyst at below US $1 per carat when bought in larger quantities.
The value depends on the collectors preferences and the so-called “Deep Russian” Amethyst is very rare and therefore demands a higher price than the more standard grade specimens.
The price also depends on the cutting of the gemstone.

Some of the standard cuttings for gemstones.

Gemstone_Cuttings

Below are a few samples of high quality grades and types with estimated prices/carat from Africa Gems.

To see more details, click on the images.


Type of cut Standard Facets Image Link Comments Est.price/carat
Round Brilliant
57
Round
Originally developed for Diamonds
47
Oval
69
Oval Ratio of length and width abt. 2:1 for calibrated stones.
Calibrated means it can fit in most standard jewelry findings.
35-63
Emerald
50
Emerald Calibrated between 5.00×3.00mm and 16.00×12.00mm
35-66
Antique Cushion
64
Antique_Cushion
Calibrated between 8.00×6.00mm and 14.00×10.00mm
39-57
Heart
59
Heart
Calibrated between
4.00mm and
13.00mm
50-79
Baguette
20
Baguette
Calibrated between 4.00×2.00mm and
8.00×4.00mm
50-60
Square
57
Square
Calibrated between 4.00×4.00mm and
7.00×7.00mm
56-69
Princess
76
Princess
Calibrated between
2.00mm and
8.00mm
47-66
Pear
71
Pear
Calibrated between
5.00×3.00mm and
15.00×10.00mm
48-65
Trillion
43
Trillion
Calibrated between
4.00mm and
13.00mm
57-69
Briolette
84
Briolette
Calibrated between
6.00×4.00mm and
10.00×5.00mm
117-207
Marquise
57
Marquise
Calibrated between
4.00×2.00mm and
15.00×7.00mm
48-66

As the supply of normal grade stones in both small and large sizes is plentiful, the price per carat doesn’t increase exponentially with increasing size, to the same extent as with some other gemstones.

Examples of imitation Amethyst from Fire Mountain Gems.


Cut Size Price US$ Depending on quantity
Image Link
Comments
Round 10mm
3.35-7.06
H20-1008YA
Cubic Zirconia
Emerald 10x8mm
3.23-6.87
H20-1018YA
Cubic Zirconia
Marquise 8x4mm
1.16-5.39
H20-1025YA
Cubic Zirconia
Pear 10x7mm
2.91-6.40
H20-1022YA
Cubic Zirconia

Examples of crystal beads as Amethyst crystal imitations from SWAROVSKI, as marketed by Fire Mountain Gems among many other suppliers of fashion jewelry beading equipment and parts.


Emerald 27×18.5mm
3.33
H20-6190CR
Foil back
No. 4627
Oval 30x22mm
4.56
H20-5400CR
Foil back
No. 4127
Baguette 12x6mm
0.72
H20-A1499CY
Foil back
No. 4524

More information on these type of stones from Swarovski can be found on their website by clicking on SWAROVSKI

Metaphysical Properties

Amethyst is said to cure headaches, to rectify blood sugar imbalance, brain imbalances, gives inner peace, gives psychic insight, stimulates third eye and internal surrender.

Third eye, or inner eye, is believed to be an invisible eye providing perception beyond ordinary eye sight.
In Hinduism it is believed that humans actually had a third eye at the back of the head which had both a spiritual and physical function, but as the humans became less and less spiritual inclined the third eye was reduced to what is known as the pineal gland which is a small gland, abt 5-8mm, in the vertebrate brain, which can affect many functions of the body.
There are numerous religious and spiritual beliefs connected to Amethyst.

But above all it was thought to prevent drunkenness and help to cure the “day after” effects of a larger consumption of intoxicating substances.

Some also believed that Amethyst protected against evil sorcery and brought success and good luck. It was said to reveal hidden knowledge and help against insomnia and nightmares.
If you wear Amethyst jewelry, or you meditate holding a piece of Amethyst, your mood will become better.

It can be used to attract love and happiness (as most jewelry would……).

It can help with hearing problems and can relieve problems such as arthritis and back problems. It can help with disorders of the digestive system, nervous system, heart, stomach and teeth.

The believers of crystal energy’s healing capacities, regard Amethyst as a tool to increase our awareness of higher realms of reality, or higher levels of consciousness, enhances our meditation and connects us with our higher self.

You will find numerous beliefs connected to the gemstone Amethyst if you search the internet,


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