Amethyst

Amethyst

February’s birthstone

Colours

Pinkish purple, through purple to violet

Family

Quartz, SiO2

Hardness

6.5 to 7

Refractive Index

1.544 – 1.553

Specific Gravity

2.66

Crystal System

Trigonal

Enhancements May be enhanced
Major Sources

Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Russia, Australia

Warnings for Care Colour change may occur with mild – moderate heat
Amethyst Varieties
Green Amethyst, Pink Amethyst, Lavender Amethyst (Rose De France)

Amethyst Facts

For more than 3000 years, Amethyst has been the most valuable member of the quartz group. From ancient Egyptian royalty, this transparent purple variety of quartz has enjoyed an historical importance as an insignia of power. Fine amethysts are to this day present in the Crown Jewels of many royal houses throughout Europe. It is therefore not surprising then that when Church and State were almost as one, Amethyst was also a favourite stone in the high ranks of the Christian church, and was often referred to as  "the stone of bishops". The name appears to have been derived from  the Greek word "amethystos" which translates into "not drunken." Amethyst was considered up until recent times to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why wine goblets were often carved from it and simple amethyst talismans we popular. The gemstone still symbolizes sobriety.

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

Topics of Interest:
Amethyst - What Causes the Colour
Purchasing Amethyst
Mineable Deposits
Amethyst - Common Treatments
Important & Famous Amethyst
Amethyst  - The Legend

Amethyst - What Causes the Colour

In Amethyst the main causal colour agent is iron, which produces a range of colours from pinkish purple, through purple to violet. Green amethyst (Prasiolite) is produced by the heat treatment.

Purchasing Amethyst

Colour
While fashions come and go the intense deep colours are still the most valuable, particularly a rich purple with rose / pink flashes. The "Siberian" deep purple with red and blue flash commands the highest prices, although rough of this variety is extremely hard to come by of late.

Lighting
Amethyst is a daylight stone; under artificial light the subtle flashed that infuse the stone with its fire are not well displayed. The true character of the stone is best viewed in the early morning or evening, when the light is soft and warm and the majesty of this regal gem are best displayed.

Clarity
A fine quality Amethyst is transparent, allowing  the light to pass through the stone unhindered. Any translucency slightly weakens the passage of the light through the stone. The best quality Amethysts are "eye-clean", being free of visible inclusions of any kind. Since amethyst deposits are plentiful, there is little reason other than a price constraint to buy stones with visible inclusions.

Cut
Due to the presence of banding or zoning which delineates the distribution of colour in the crystals, Amethyst is often cut in round brilliants  to maximize and even out colour. Other cuts such as the simple octagonal step cuts can be used when the colour is better distributed through out the stone. Amethyst is available in a wide range of calibrated sizes and shapes, including many fancy ones.

Mineable Deposits

While the largest mineable deposits of today are in Brazil, namely the "Palmeira" Amethysts of Rio Grande do Sul and the "Maraba" Amethysts of Para. Other Amethyst deposits are found worldwide in such countries as Bolivia, Canada, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Russia, Sri Lanka, United States (Arizona), Uruguay and Zambia. Each deposit from continent to continent to a certain extent had an almost distinctive colour fingerprint. Making for example, African stones a distinctively different colour to say South American stones.

Common Amethyst Treatments

Heat treatment of 878-1382 degrees F (470-750 degrees C) results in light yellow, golden yellow, red-brown, green or colourless varieties of Amethyst being produced.

Important & famous Amethyst

While the piece in question has long been lost in the sands of time, around 1300 B.C the bejeweled breastplate of Aaron, contained an Amethyst representing one of the 12 tribes (Dan) of Israel  - Exodus 28:15-30

Amethyst The Legend

While there are many legends surrounding Amethyst the most commonly help one is from Greek Mythology.

Dionysius, the god of intoxication, was one day angered  by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next human that crossed his path (vowing that  tigers should carry out his wish for punishment). Amethyst it is said, a beautiful young woman on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana, was to become his victim.

Diana to protect Amethyst from the tiger’s deadly claws turned her into a stature of pure crystalline white quartz. Dionysus on seeing the beautiful statue wept tears of wine in remorse for his actions,  which it is said 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.

Loose Gemstone

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