Amethyst: Purple Gemstone of the Gods
Though once among the most valuable gemstones. Discoveries of extensive deposits in the last two centuries have made the amethyst price plummet.
While it may have lost most of its value, it did not lose its beauty. Because of this the amethyst gemstone is one of the most used gemstones in jewelry today.
The amethyst belongs to the quartz family, which includes citrine, ametrine and rose quartz. Sometimes it is called amethyst quartz for that reason, however in the gem trade this refers to a mixture of an amethyst and milky quartz.
The color varies from a light violet to deep purple, usually the darker the gemstone is, the higher the value.
Green amethyst can sometimes be found in gem shops, however this is not actually amethyst but a green quartz called prasiolite.
Usually amethysts are found in crystals clusters or geodes (image of a geode shown above). Some of which can reach impressive sizes, weighing up to several tons and containing thousands of small amethysts.
There are still some questions about how this purple gemstone gets its color. It was believed manganese caused the color, but nowadays signs point to an iron impurity coupled with natural radiation.
Often the purple color is just a small layer on the surface, which can make it hard to cut a gemstone from the raw rocks.
As mentioned before the value of amethysts have plummeted over the last two centuries. Mostly due to large discoveries in South-America (particularly Brazil). However most of these amethysts are of lower quality, either due to their color or blemishes. So even today large amethysts with a deep purple color, no impurities and an even color are extremely valuable. Often selling for close to $200 per carat.
Synthetic amethyst has been perfected to the point of being virtually indistinguishable from its natural counterpart. Gemological testing can prove whether the gemstone is natural or not. Unfortunately this is not cost effective, unless you are dealing with a very large gemstone.
There is nothing wrong with synthetic gemstones, but the price should reflect that you’re dealing with a man-made product. So if you’ve set your sights on one of these beautiful purple gemstones, make sure you’re buying a natural gemstone.
Or if you don’t mind synthetic gemstones, you should be getting it for a price far below that of a natural amethyst. If you’d like more tips on this subject, please refer to my guide to buying gemstones online.