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AMETHYST, the purple variety of quartz

VARIETY INFORMATION:

  • Variety of: Quartz , SiO2 .
  • Uses: Gemstones and ornamental stones.
  • Birthstone for: February (page includes a selection of Amethyst Jewelry)
  • Color: various shades of purple.
  • Index of refraction: 1.544-1.553
  • Birefringence: 0.009
  • Hardness: 7
  • Cleavage: none
  • Crystal system: trigonal
  • Pleochroic: no
  • For natural amethyst mineral specimens see our For Sale or Sold lists
    For Amethyst Jewelry, see -->  AMETHYST JEWELRY

Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz and is a popular gemstone. If it were not for its widespread availability, amethyst would be very expensive. The name "amethyst" comes from the Greek and means "not drunken." This was maybe due to a belief that amethyst would ward off the effects of alcohol, but most likely the Greeks were referring to the almost wine-like color of some stones that they may have encountered. Its color is unparalleled, and even other, more expensive purple gemstones are often compared to its color and beauty. Although it must always be purple to be amethyst, it can and does have a wide range of purple shades.

Amethyst can occur as long prismatic crystals that have a six sided pyramid at either end or can form as druzes that are crystalline crusts that only show the pointed terminations. As a mineral specimen, amethyst is popular for its color and nice crystal shapes that produce a handsome, purple, sparkling cluster.

However, amethyst is not the same everywhere. Different localities can produce a unique amethyst to that particular region or even to that particular mine. Experts can often identify the source mine that a particular amethyst came from. The key to this is the specimen's color, shape of crystal, inclusions, associations and character of formation.

The following is a list of many of the more noteworthy localities and some of the attributes that characterize the amethyst found there.
  • Vera Cruz, Mexico -- very pale, clear, prismatic crystals that are sometimes double terminated and have grown on a light colored host rock. Crystals are typically phantomed, having a clear quartz interior and an amethyst exterior. Some are sceptered and phantomed.
  • Guerrero, Mexico -- dark, deep purple, prismatic crystals that radiate outward from a common attachment point. Often the crystals are phantomed opposite of Vera Cruz amethyst having a purple interior with a clear or white quartz exterior. These are some of the most valuable amethysts in the world.
  • Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul, Bahaia, Brazil -- crystals form in druzy crusts that line the inside of sometimes large volcanic rock pockets (vugs) called geodes. Some of the vugs form from trees that were engulfed in a lava or volcanic ash flow millions of years ago and have since withered away. Other vugs are just gas bubbles in the lava. Some vugs can be quite large. The crystals that form are usually light to medium in color and only colored at the tops of the crystals. Most clusters form with gray, white and blue agate and have a green exterior on the geodes. Calcite sometimes is associated and inclusions of cacoxenite are common. More rarely, gypsum crystals adorn the amethyst.
  • Maraba, Brazil -- large crystals with unattractive surfaces that are of a pale to medium color and often carved or cut into slices.
  • Thunder Bay, Canada -- a distinct red hematite inclusion just below the surface of the crystals is unique to this locality. Clusters are druzy crusts that line the fissures formed in ancient metamorphic rocks.
  • Uruguay -- crystals are dark to medium and form in druzy crusts that line the inside of volcanic vugs that have a gray or brown exterior. The crystals are usually colored throughout, unlike the Brazilian crystals, and form with a multicolored agate that often contains reds, yellows and oranges. Often amethyst- coated stalactites and other unusual formations occur inside these vugs.
  • Africa -- crystals are usually large but not attractive. However, the interior color and clarity are excellent and polished slices and carvings as well as many gemstones are prized and admired.
  • Maine, USA -- Dark druzy clusters that are not widely distributed today.
  • North Carolina, USA -- Druzy clusters that have a bluish-violet tint.
  • Pennsylvania, USA -- druzy clusters that filled fractures in metamorphic rocks. They are generally a brownish purple and patchy in color.
  • Colorado, USA -- druzy clusters form crusts inside of fissures in sandstone, often on top of a crust of green fluorite. Crystals are dark but rather small.
  • Italy -- both Vera Cruz like crystals, although not as well defined, and large parallel growth clusters with good evenly distributed color.
  • Germany -- associated with colorful agates that form a druzy light-colored crust.
  • Ural Mountains, Russia -- a very clear and dark variety that is cut for fine expensive gemstones, natural uncut clusters are rarely on the market.

Often cut gems of amethyst are graded using the terms: Siberian, Uruguayan or Bahain; to represent high medium and low grade respectively, regardless of the actual source. Because of the patchyness of the color distribution in the crystals, Amethyst is often cut as brilliant round cuts to maximize the color. Other cuts can be used when the color is better distributed.

The color purple is traditionally the color of royalty and amethyst has been used since the dawn of history to adorn the rich and powerful monarchs and rulers. Today, amethyst is a lovely and affordable gemstone that is fortunately available in a wide variety of cut and uncut stones that we can all possess and admire.

Amethyst is only one of several quartz varieties. Other varieties that form macroscopic (large enough to see) crystals are as follows:

  • Citrine is a yellow to orange gemstone variety that is rare in nature but is often created by heating Amethyst.
  • Milky Quartz is the cloudy white variety.
  • Prasiolite is the leek-green variety, rare in nature but used as a gemstone, sometimes (wrongly) called Green Amethyst.
  • Rock crystal is the clear variety that is also used as a gemstone.
  • Rose quartz is a pink to reddish pink variety.
  • Smoky quartz is the brown to gray variety.
Amethyst Jewelry - Hover over an item for more information
Ross-Simons 2.20ct Amethyst, Black Agate Ring, .10ct t.w. Diamonds in Silver
An RS exclusive. With a sleek Deco look, our ring flashes a 2.20 carat amethyst in a frame of sleek black agate. Center stones are circled in a border of glittering .10 ct. t.w. diamonds. Sterling silver ring. Amethyst birthstones are the perfect gift...Only $150.00 at Ross-Simons
no photoRoss-Simons 2.20ct Amethyst, Black Agate Ring, .10ct t.w. Diamonds in Silver
$150.00
Ross-Simons
Bridge Jewelry Footnotes Too Pure Silver-Plated Light Amethyst & Cats Charm Expandable Bangle
This wire bangle is small enough to layer with other pieces but special enough to stand alone. Expandable for a great fit, this pure silver-plated bangle features a genuine light amethyst bead and three cat-themed charms. Metal: Pure silver-plated...Only $58.00 at jcpenney
no photoBridge Jewelry Footnotes Too Pure Silver-Plated Light Amethyst & Cats Charm Expandable Bangle
$58.00
jcpenney
Ross-Simons 95.00ct t.w. Amethyst Bead Pendant Necklace in Gold . 20"
This regal 95.00 ct. t.w. amethyst bead necklace is a colorful update for your ensemble. The lovely amethyst strand showcases a pear-shaped purple pendant at its center. Amethyst necklace with 14kt yellow gold spacers and clasp. Amethyst birthstones...Only $318.75 at Ross-Simons
no photoRoss-Simons 95.00ct t.w. Amethyst Bead Pendant Necklace in Gold . 20"
$318.75
Ross-Simons
Amethyst-Capped Woven Leather Cuff, Gunmetal - MCL by Matthew Campbell Laurenza
Woven leather shapes malleable cuff. Black rhodium-plated sterling silver ends with colored enamel trim, bezel-set amethyst, and pave white topaz. 1.68 total amethyst carat weight. Opening for slip-on style. 8in circumference. 1/2in at widest. Imported.Only $250.00 at Neiman Marcus
no photoAmethyst-Capped Woven Leather Cuff, Gunmetal - MCL by Matthew Campbell Laurenza
$250.00
Neiman Marcus
Sterling Silver Rainbow Fire Australian Black Opal Inlay, African Amethyst Ring Jewelry
This Ring was handmade by a master artisan and is one of a kind.Only $138.74 at JeGem.com
no photoSterling Silver Rainbow Fire Australian Black Opal Inlay, African Amethyst Ring Jewelry
$138.74
JeGem.com
Amethyst Stalactite 18k Vermeil Necklace - Devon Leigh
18-karat yellow gold vermeil chain necklace. Amethyst stalactite stations; round station trimmed in 24-karat yellow gold vermeil. 14-karat gold fill lobster clasp with hammered logo charm. Adjustable 20inL; 2in wide. Made in USA. Please note:...Only $695.00 at Neiman Marcus
no photoAmethyst Stalactite 18k Vermeil Necklace - Devon Leigh
$695.00
Neiman Marcus
Batu Chain Amethyst Ring, Medium - John Hardy
From the John Hardy Batu Chain Collection. Sterling silver ring with chain motif and braided band. Cushion-cut amethyst face. 14mm stone. US ring size 7. Handcrafted in Bali. About this collection: John Hardy is one of the last companies to weave chain...Only $795.00 at Neiman Marcus
no photoBatu Chain Amethyst Ring, Medium - John Hardy
$795.00
Neiman Marcus
Amethyst Coin Necklace, Purple - Devon Leigh
This Devon Leigh necklace teaches old clothes a new trick with amethyst stations and gleaming golden links. Five amethyst stations. Golden double-link rolo chain necklace. Approx. 33inL. Slip-on style. Made in USA.Only $370.00 at Neiman Marcus
no photoAmethyst Coin Necklace, Purple - Devon Leigh
$370.00
Neiman Marcus
Sterling Silver Brazilian Amethyst Ring Jewelry
This Ring was handmade by a master artisan and is one of a kind.Only $78.74 at JeGem.com
no photoSterling Silver Brazilian Amethyst Ring Jewelry
$78.74
JeGem.com
Ross-Simons 3.20 ct. t.w. Amethyst Station Necklace in Sterling Silver. 16"
Rich purple tones make a playful statement on this pretty station necklace. 3.20 ct. t.w. of bezel-set purple amethyst rounds drop delicately from the sterling silver cable chain. Lobster clasp. Includes 2" extender. Sterling silver necklace. Amethyst...Only $112.50 at Ross-Simons
no photoRoss-Simons 3.20 ct. t.w. Amethyst Station Necklace in Sterling Silver. 16"
$112.50
Ross-Simons
Ross-Simons 1.85 Carat Amethyst Ring With Diamonds in Sterling Silver
With a distinctly royal flair, this gorgeous 1.85 carat cushion-cut amethyst ring sparkles with a pretty diamond-accent frame that renders it fit for a Medieval princess or a bride from the Renaissance era! Sterling silver ring. Amethyst birthstones...Only $150.00 at Ross-Simons
no photoRoss-Simons 1.85 Carat Amethyst Ring With Diamonds in Sterling Silver
$150.00
Ross-Simons
Ross-Simons 5.50ct t.w. Purple Amethyst Earrings, .10ct t.w. Diamonds in Silver
Pretty and perky, these cushion-cut 5.50 ct. t.w. purple amethyst and .10 ct. t.w. diamond earrings will set you apart! Hinged post, sterling silver earrings. Amethyst birthstones are the perfect gift for February birthdays.Only $93.75 at Ross-Simons
no photoRoss-Simons 5.50ct t.w. Purple Amethyst Earrings, .10ct t.w. Diamonds in Silver
$93.75
Ross-Simons
Silver Prism Ring, Amethyst - Lagos
A light-catching, amethyst center lights up signature Lagos Caviar beading. A simply elegant take on the cocktail ring. Cushion-cut amethyst center. Sterling silver and 18-karat yellow gold signature Caviar beading. Stone, 1/2inL x 1/3inW. Tapered band.Only $695.00 at Neiman Marcus
no photoSilver Prism Ring, Amethyst - Lagos
$695.00
Neiman Marcus
Ross-Simons 9.50 Carat Amethyst Ring in 18kt Yellow Gold Over Sterling
Our lightly textured ring flaunts a 9.50 carat oval amethyst set horizontally. The design has a bright appearance and an artisanal look. 18kt yellow gold over sterling silver ring. Amethyst birthstones are the perfect gift for February birthdays.Only $125.00 at Ross-Simons
no photoRoss-Simons 9.50 Carat Amethyst Ring in 18kt Yellow Gold Over Sterling
$125.00
Ross-Simons
Amethyst Cushion Cut Ring in Sterling Silver
Refined and timeless, this amethyst gemstone ring fashionably stands out, complemented by sterling silver.Only $149.00 at Blue Nile
no photoAmethyst Cushion Cut Ring in Sterling Silver
$149.00
Blue Nile

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