What is The Color of Amethyst?
Royal, luscious, vivid, rich, vibrant, seductive, alluring?? All these adjectives and more describe the purple color of an amethyst. Amethyst is a quartz gemstone that is incredibly rich in the violet / purple color; color ranging from light lavender/lilac, often referred to as Rose de France" by the gemstone trade through a deep bluish-purple with flashes of red or pink, a color which some gemstone dealers used to call Siberian or Russian amethyst. Once you have seen one of the best deep color amethysts, you will never forget it and you will most likely covet the one you saw if you didn't buy it when you saw it. Wear one of these deep purple beauties with a raspberry-colored outfit and the complements just won't stop coming or wear one of the Rose de France" lavender beauties with a lavender outfit and everyone will be sure to note your fashion sense.
Amethyst Gemstones Throughout History
The color purple has been long associated with the higher echelons of society and with the ecclesiastical world for thousands of years. Some date the use of amethyst back to Biblical times. It has been said that Moses said that amethyst was a symbol of the Spirit of God and it was listed as one of the twelve gemstones in the High Priest's breastplate where it representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. We believe it was first mentioned in the ancient story of the Exodus from Egypt by the Israelites. We know that the ancient Egyptians carved amethyst intaglios, some of which are in museums to this day. Sumerians and Babylonians as well as the Egyptians were said to wear amethyst amulets for protection. Throughout many Christian sects, amethyst rings were traditionally worn as a sign of rank and many of the clergy believed that amethyst helped to bring the faithful to God. Many also thought that only the very highly spiritual and moral were worthy of wearing amethyst. The ancient Chinese often stored spices, balms and healing ointments in carved amethyst bottles.
Price of Amethyst Gemstones
Until sometime in the 18th century, amethyst was primarily for those of wealth. Many included in the list of most valuable gemstones along with diamond, sapphire, emerald and ruby. Some of the most prized amethyst came from the Ural Mountains of Russia. But discoveries of large deposits of amethyst in Brazil and other countries caused amethyst to lose much of its value and its elite status. But that doesn't mean that amethyst isn't valuable because it is. It is one of the most popular gemstones available at affordable prices.
Amethyst Lore and Mystical Properties
Probably the most well-known mystical "attributes" of amethyst is that it is supposed to protect one from drunkenness. Many ancient wine goblets were carved from it for that reason. It seems that amethyst got its name from the Greek word "amethysotos" which roughly translates to "not drunken".
More Mystical uses of Amethyst Stones
The list of mystical uses goes on to include soothing anger, helping when the wearer is catching wild animals and birds, protects against excesses of passion, brings good luck, promotes meditation, relieves mental strain and fatigue and so much more. For those who really believe, it is even supposed to be a remedy for wrinkles, warts, moles and even freckles. It is supposed to protect a soldier from wounds of war, evoke love, help one become prudent, help someone become more confident and it was said to cure stuttering. How about bringing about sweet dreams or give wisdom? Amethyst is supposed to foster friendship and harmony, help with diseases of the liver and kidneys. The list is quite extensive and we haven't included all the wonderful mystical attributes here because of the length of that list.
Amethyst is A Modern and Zodiac Birthstone
The modern and ancient birthstone for those born in February and it is the zodiac birthstone for those born under the sign of Pisces.
How To Evaluate Amethyst Gemstones and Amethyst Valuation
While it is true that amethyst is a quartz gemstone, it is unusual in that the crystal structure is different than its quartz gemstone cousins. It is most often found as crystals lining geodes - think an egg or almond-shaped outer rock that that is basically hollow and when cracked open it reveals a lining of amethyst crystals. Some of these geodes can be very large. For example, the Empress of Uruguay is reported to be eleven feet tall and weighs in at two and a half tons. A newly discovered amethyst geode reportedly weighs in at around 14 tons. Brazil recorded the most famous amethyst deposit in Rio Grande del Sol, where a monster deposit of amethyst was discovered in a cavern - think absolutely huge geode that is so huge it cannot be dug out of the ground. It measured over 30 feet in length and 15 feet in width and was completely lined with gem quality amethyst crystals.
Color and Color Zoning in Amethyst
Amethyst is almost always found with color zoning or color striations. Rarely are even the best quality amethyst gemstones without any color zoning. Expert gemstone cutters cut the gemstone material in such a way that when mounted the color zoning disappears. One of the most beautiful of the color zoning gemstones is known as ametrine and is a bi-color gemstone that is part citrine (a golden color) and the violet/purple of amethyst. 99% of the commercial production of ametrine comes from only one mine in the entire world. Then there is the heat-treated "green" amethyst. Purists will advise you that amethyst is purple and that "green" amethyst is technically called Prasiolite. No matter what you call it, green amethyst (prasiolite) is a beautiful member of the amethyst/quartz family. Amethyst can be heat treated to make an orange brownish colored gemstone that is known as Citrine. While citrine can occur naturally most citrine is heat-treated amethyst or smoky quartz.
Qualities of Amethyst
As stated above, the best quality amethyst will sometimes be called "Siberian" or "Russian" amethyst. This is because the best quality amethyst was originally found in the Ural Mountains of Russia. The amethysts from those mines were a deep uniform purple with magenta highlights. Those mines have been depleted and are no longer being mined but the names stuck as a way for the gemstone trade to indicate the best color of amethyst. Amethyst is mined around the world with the best quality coming from Brazil, Uruguay and Madagascar but beautiful amethyst is also mined in the United States na North America, South Korea, Austria, Zambia, with one of the largest producers being the mines in Zambia.
How To Judge Amethyst Quality
Hue The best hue for amethyst is in the 75% to 85% purple range with the remaining 15% to 25% secondary hues of blue and red. That said some people prefer the lavender color range (hue) rather than the purple range. The lavender colors will typically not have the secondary hues.
Tone The best tone (light and darkness) for amethyst is in the 75% to 85% range. Above 85% the amethyst will be too dark (almost black). That said some people prefer the much lighter lavender color range.
Saturation When thinking about saturation think the brightness of the hue. In spite of being a purple color, which most people would consider a dark color to begin with, the best amethyst should be vivid on the saturation scale. One should look for a vivid purple with no brown/grey mask.
Clarity Amethyst is a Type II gemstone and may contain some inclusions. By nature, the color of purple may mask the inclusions, but if one prefers the light lavender amethyst any inclusions will be more evident to the eye so one should look carefully to ensure as clean a gemstone as possible.
Cut Amethyst gemstones are cut into just about every shape, including those cuts considered fancy cuts. Lighter hue / tone amethysts (60% to 70% hue / tone range) are very well suited to the fancy cuts because one can see the facets (cuts) cuts more easily than with the darker hued / toned amethysts. The darker hue / tone amethyst gemstones are most frequently cut in the traditional shapes like oval, round, princess, heart shapes, etc.
Carat Weight - Amethyst being quartz and quartz being one of the most common gemstones available amethyst can easily be found in larger sizes. It is not unusual to find 20+ amethyst available for use in jewelry. Even in the largest carat weights, it is an affordable gemstone.
Amethyst Treatments - Amethyst is typically heat treated to improve the purple color. This treatment is permanent.
Hardness Amethyst is a 7 on the Mohs scale and is very suitable for everyday wear in jewelry.
Amethyst Imposters and Synthetics - While there are synthetic amethyst produced, it is typically not used in jewelry as natural amethyst is so readily available. Occasionally one might find purple color glass being used in less expensive costume jewelry.