There seems to be a great interest in Amethyst crystals. I hardly had any difficulty finding more information on it. In fact there is so much info that I will not try and cover it all here. Most people has seen Amethyst as it is very common and typically displayed as a disectioned rock with an interior of crystals.
My wife loves Amethyst stones and has a few including a polished one that looks much like the one in the picture below. Most of my informartin came from the Wikipedia entry this time as it was so complete.
Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz often used as an ornament, its chemical formula is SiO2.The name comes from the Greek a (“not”) and methustos (“to intoxicate”), a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness; the ancient Greeks and Romans wore amethyst and made drinking vessels of it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.
In the 20th century, the color of amethyst was attributed to the presence of manganese. However, since it is capable of being greatly altered and even discharged by heat, the color was believed by some authorities to be from an organic source. Ferric thiocyanate was suggested, and sulfur was said to have been detected in the mineral.
More recent work has shown that amethyst’s coloration is due to ferric iron impurities. Further study has shown a complex interplay of iron and aluminium is responsible for the color.
On exposure to heat, amethyst generally becomes yellow, and much of the citrine, cairngorm, or yellow quartz of jewelry is said to be merely “burnt amethyst.” Veins of amethystine quartz are apt to lose their color on the exposed outcrop. Because it has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, amethyst is treasured for its use in jewelry.
Synthetic amethyst is made to imitate the best quality amethyst. Its chemical and physical properties are so similar to that of natural amethyst that it cannot be differentiated with absolute certainty without advanced gemological testing (which is often cost prohibitive). There is one test (which is not 100 percent certain) based on “Brazil law twinning” (a form of quartz twinning where right and left hand quartz structures are combined in a single crystal which can be used to identify synthetic amethyst rather easily. In theory however it is possible to create this material synthetically as well, but this type is not available in large quantities in the market.
Amethyst was used as a gemstone by the ancient Egyptians and was largely employed in antiquity for intaglios. Beads of amethyst are found in Anglo-Saxon graves in England. It is a widely distributed mineral, but fine, clear specimens that are suitable for cutting as ornamental stones are confined to comparatively few localities. Such crystals occur either in the cavities of mineral-veins and in granitic rocks, or as a lining in agate geodes. A huge geode, or “amethyst-grotto,” from near Santa Cruz in southern Brazil was exhibited at the Düsseldorf, Germany Exhibition of 1902. Many of the hollow agates of Brazil and Uruguay contain a crop of amethyst crystals in the interior. Much fine amethyst comes from Russia, especially from near Mursinka in the Ekaterinburg district, where it occurs in drusy cavities in granitic rocks. Many localities in India yield amethyst.
Amethyst occurs at many localities in the United States, but these specimens are rarely fine enough for use in jewelry. Among these may be mentioned Amethyst Mountain, Texas; Yellowstone National Park; Delaware County, Pennsylvania; Haywood County, North Carolina; and Deer Hill and Stow, Maine. It is found also in the Lake Superior region. Amethyst is relatively common in northwestern Ontario, and in various locations throughout Nova Scotia, but uncommon elsewhere in Canada. Amethyst is produced in abundance from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil where it occurs in large geodes within volcanic rocks. It is also found and mined in South Korea.
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 or “vugs”. Some of the vugs form from trees that were engulfed in a lava 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 vugs. Calcite sometimes is associated and inclusions of cacoxenite are common.
- 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.
Due to its popularity as a gemstone, several descriptive terms have been coined in the gem trade to describe the varying colors of amethyst. “Rose de France” is usually a pale pinkish lavender or lilac shade (usually the least-sought color). The most prized color is an intense violet with red flashes and is called “Siberian,” although gems of this color may occur from several locations other than Siberia, notably Uruguay and Zambia. In more recent times, certain gems (usually of Bolivian origin) that have shown alternate bands of amethyst purple with citrine orange have been given the name ametrine. Purple corundum, or sapphire of amethystine tint, is called Oriental amethyst, but this expression is often applied by jewelers to fine examples of the ordinary amethystine quartz, even when not derived from eastern sources. Professional gemological associations, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gemological Society (AGS), discourage the use of the term “Oriental amethyst” to describe any gem, as it may be misleading.
Traditionally included in the cardinal, or most valuable, gemstones (along with diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald), amethyst has lost much of its value due to the discovery of extensive deposits in locations such as Brazil. The highest grade Amethyst (called “Deep Russian”) is exceptionally rare and therefore its value is dependent on the demand of collectors when one is found. It is however still orders of magnitude lower than the highest grade sapphires or rubies (Padparadscha Sapphire or “Pigeon Blood” Ruby) which can go for as much as $50,000 or more per carat.
Amethyst is the birthstone associated with February. It is also associated with the astrological signs of Pisces, Aries (especially the violet and purple variety), Aquarius, and Sagittarius. It is a symbol of heavenly understanding, and of the pioneer in thought and action on the philosophical, religious, spiritual, and material planes. Ranking members of the Roman Catholic Church traditionally wear rings set with a large amethyst as part of their office.
The Greek word “amethystos” (αμέθυστος) basically can be translated as “not drunken.” Amethyst was considered to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why wine goblets were often carved from it. Supposedly, when a drunken Dionysus was pursuing a maiden called Amethystos, who refused his affections, she prayed to the gods to remain chaste. The goddess Artemis granted the prayer, transforming her into a white stone; humbled by Amethystos’ desire to remain chaste, Dionysus poured wine over the stone she had become as an offering, dying the crystals purple.
Variants of the story include that Dionysus, the god of intoxication, had been insulted by a mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal who crossed his path, creating fierce tigers to carry out his wish; the mortal turned out to be a beautiful young woman, Amethystos, who was on her way to pay tribute to Artemis. Her life is spared by Artemis, who transforms the maiden into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god’s tears stained the quartz purple. Another variation involves the goddess Rhea presenting Dionysus with the amethyst stone to preserve the winedrinker’s sanity
The Second Book of Pseudo-Albertus Magnus, Of the Vertues of Certaine Stones, refers to amethysts by the name Amarictus.
According to Judy Hall :
- It is extremely powerful and a protective stone
- It guard against psychic attack transmuting the energy to love
- It overcomes addictions and blockages of all kinds
- Strong healing and cleansing powers and enhances spiritual awareness
- Used at a higher level, it opens to another reality
- It is calming or stimulating as appropriate
- For meditation it turns thoughts away from the mundane into tranquility and understanding
- It helps you feel less scattered, more focused and in control
- Facilitates the decision making process, bringing in more common sense and spiritual insights
- Helps insomnia and protects against recurrent nightmares