Amethyst is known for its beautiful purple color, and it is the most important quartz variety used in jewelry. Purple has long been considered a royal color, so it is not surprising that amethyst has been in so much demand throughout history.
Amethyst is a variety of quartz that is colored by the presence iron and aluminum. The violet color of amethyst can range from a pale lavender to a deep, dark purple, and it is often found in shades of pale to medium purple. Amethyst is typically found in Brazil, Uruguay, and Madagascar, but it can also be found in smaller deposits in other countries such as Russia, the United States, and Canada.
Amethyst is known for its durability with a Mohs hardness rating of 7. For reference, amethyst is roughly as hard as tourmaline, softer than sapphire and topaz, and harder than opal and tanzanite. This makes it a durable gemstone that is resistant to scratching and chipping. It is also resistant to heat and chemicals which means that it can withstand daily wear and tear.
Amethyst has the same refractive index as other varieties of quartz at 1.54-1.55 and is doubly refractive. It has a vitreous polish luster and its specific gravity is 2.66. Its chemical composition is SiO2.
History and Lore
The rich history of amethyst dates all the way back to ancient Greek mythology. The word “amethystos,” is derived from the Greek word meaning “not drunken.”
It is said that amethyst was created when Dionysus, the god of wine, was angered by an insult from a mortal. In his rage, Dionysus vowed to take revenge on the next person who crossed his path, and he created fierce tigers to carry out his wish. This person happened to be Amethyst, a beautiful young woman on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. In order to protect Amethyst, Diana turned her into a statue made of pure, crystalline quartz. Dionysus, upon seeing the stunning statue, wept tears of wine in remorse for his actions. These tears stained the quartz purple, resulting in the creation of the gemstone known as amethyst.
Amethyst has a long history of being used in jewelry and other decorative items. It was highly prized by ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, who believed that amethyst had the power to protect against evil spirits and drunkenness. The Greeks also believed that amethyst had healing powers and would often carve it into the shape of animals or other objects to be used as amulets.
In the Middle Ages, amethyst was associated with the clergy and was often used in the design of religious objects. It was also believed to have the power to bring about sobriety and was given to people who were struggling with addiction. Wine glasses were even carved out of amethyst for this same reason.
The gemstone still symbolizes sobriety today, and it has been credited with many other extraordinary attributes. Among its reputed benefits are an ability to quicken the intelligence, make the owner more successful in business, protect soldiers, assure victory, help hunters, guard against contagious diseases, and control evil thoughts.
Amethyst was once as valuable as emeralds and rubies until very large deposits were found in multiple places around the world. Heavily increased supply dropped prices consistently over the last 200 years which is why, despite its beauty, amethyst is such an affordable stone today.
About 50% of amethysts on the world market are now believed to be synthetic. This is a fairly recent discovery as many low cost, high quality, deeply colored amethysts are now appearing in inexpensive jewelry. Because the cost of testing is higher than the cost of even the natural stones it is not often performed. Beware of stones of perfect clarity, calibrated sizes, and precision cutting.
One of the most famous amethyst stones is in The Morris Amethyst Brooch which is set with a large 96 carat heart shaped amethyst. It resides in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History. The amethyst was most likely mined in Brazil and exhibits a deep, rich purple color.
Amethyst also naturally occurs as geodes (rock that contains a hollow cavity lined with crystals) and the most famous of these is the largest ever found. This amazing stone named “The Empress of Uruguay” stands 10.7 feet tall and weighs over 5,500 pounds!
Care and Cleaning
Amethyst is a relatively low-maintenance gemstone and can be easily cared for at home. To clean amethyst, you can use warm water and mild soap to gently scrub the surface of the gemstone. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly and dry it off with a soft cloth. You should also avoid exposing amethyst to harsh chemicals or heat, as these can damage the gemstone. Prolonged UV/sun exposure can cause the color in amethyst to fade so keep that in mind when storing your amethyst jewelry.
If you have an amethyst ring or other piece of jewelry with diamonds or other gemstones, you should be careful when cleaning it. You should use a soft brush to gently scrub the amethyst and avoid using ultrasonic cleaners, as these can damage the gemstone.
Why Buy Amethyst
There are many reasons why someone might want to buy amethyst. One of the main reasons is its beautiful violet color, which can complement a wide range of skin tones and wardrobe styles. Amethyst is also a very affordable gemstone, making it a great choice for those on a budget. While not all amethyst gems are inexpensive even in very high qualities, amethyst is not out of reach of most consumers.
Amethyst’s value is in its beauty not its price. It costs relatively little and in most likelihood will not see a strong price increase in the future. But, if you spend a little more and get a high grade amethyst, you are getting a gem whose color and brilliance are marvels to behold. In the end, a gem’s value to a person is not always the price paid but the beauty of the jewelry. Amethyst can make some beautiful jewelry.