A comprehensive guide to amethyst
Amethysts are among the most popular gemstones and probably the most well-known purple rock. Did you know that amethysts were once ranked alongside diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds? It has historically been used in jewelry and been associated with many powers. It was considered so valuable that at one point, amethysts were only available to royalty.
But you might be wondering:
Is the amethyst a good choice for jewelry today? And more importantly, can it be chic and trendy or is it dated? As we answer these questions, we are going to meander through everything you need to know about amethysts.
What is an amethyst?
Amethyst is made of a very common crystal that is abundantly found across the world – quartz. Quartz comes in a variety of colors and these are known by different names (citrine and rose quartz are some examples). Distinguished by its purple color, amethyst has shades ranging from light lavender to dark purple. Its hue is caused by infections in the crystal lattice coming from irradiation, contamination of trace elements and iron impurities.
Despite being uniquely distinguished as a purple gem, some people often confuse the green variety of quartz as amethyst. This is a mistake easily made as an amethyst stone can have different; for example, a very light shade of purple may be present on the surface of a somewhat greenish crystal.
Interesting Note: Green quartz is actually called prasiolite. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is incorrect to refer to prasiolite as green amethyst and could cause a legal action in events of intentional misappropriation and false advertisement. Instead, it should be called green quartz.
Amethyst used to be very expensive but after large deposits were found in Brazil, prices plummeted. Unlike with diamonds, the supply was never tightly controlled and no false scarcity existed. So, while the beauty of the gemstone remains the same, the value dropped. Regardless of its monetary value, the amethyst remains as alluring and beautiful as it has always been.
Evaluate your amethyst before you buy
This highly versatile rock can be used in a range of ways: vases, lapel pins, headdress, and even ornamental displays.
The most popular use of an amethyst, much like any precious stone, is of course jewelry. But before jumping into a bling-buying spree, let’s learn the basics about how to evaluate a good amethyst.
Evaluating the color of your amethyst
Color, it goes without saying, is the most important factor when it comes to amethysts. What you must watch out for is zoning.
You might be wondering what this means.
Because an amethyst crystal can come in very large crystals, often its colors can be diluted and spread unevenly throughout the crystal.
Some crystals, on the other hand, have deeply saturated rich purple shades. These are the types that are popular in the jewelry world and are obviously more valuable. Although zoning does lower the value of amethyst, that doesn’t mean that they are worthless. In fact, such crystals make very good ornaments.
Interesting note: One of the most popular versions of an amethyst ornament is an amethyst geode. Geodes are spherical hollow rock structures that are lined internally with minerals. Amethyst geodes are often cut into halves or other portions. This is widely used in crystal healing and in spiritual ways.
For your jewelry, though, choose a stone with vibrant color. Amethysts are pretty affordable so going all out is not a guilty pleasure! After all, the point of having an amethyst is to protect oneself from overindulgence.
How to evaluate the clarity of your amethyst
Clarity is important as it allows the crystal to reflect light out of the surface. If the stone contains inclusions that hinder the movement of light, it can affect the brilliance of the stone. Besides, nobody wants a gemstone riddled with inclusions!
Amethysts cut for jewelry is often eye-clean. This means that it does not contain visible flaws. When looking for an amethyst, make sure that there are no inclusions within the stone and that it is bright and clear.
Evaluating the cut of your amethyst
Amethysts are often cut to maximize the beauty of the stone. For eye-clean crystals with minimal or no zoning, faceting is more appropriate since the goal of faceting is to enable the stone to reflect as bright a light as possible.
Depending on the size of the stone and the distribution of its color, any type of cut is possible be it oval, cushion, triangle, marquise or emerald.
For highly included crystals with prominent zoning, polishing them en cabochon is more suitable. Cabochons bank on the interesting patterns that inclusions and color zoning render on the surface of the stone. In other words, what we consider flaws (zoning, inclusions) are used to advantage with this type of cut.
Sometimes, less precious gems tend to be overshadowed by the beauty of the big four gems - diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald - mainly because of their established popularity and the stunning colors such stones produce.
With the invention of fantasy cut by Bernd Musteiner in1943, less precious crystals such as amethysts can grab the spotlight. The fantasy cut is when the jeweler cuts a beautiful non-standard carving onto the surface of the gem. Because the crystal is relatively softer than more precious stones, cutters are allowed more room for creativity with their artistic designer cuts. Google the term amethyst fantasy cuts and you get an interesting insight into what is possible with amethysts!
Consider the carat weight of your amethyst
Amethysts can be found in a range of sizes. If you are someone who likes large center-stones, this makes a good choice because the price of amethysts does not go up with the increase in carat weight.
Are amethysts treated?
Sometimes, when crystals are in their natural form, colors tend to be muted or do not appear on the crystal at all. It’s like a shy person that needs a little push to blossom. For an amethyst, this push is heat.
Heating is the most common treatment used on amethyst. When an amethyst is too dark or too light it can affect the beauty of the stone. By heating, the color is changed either by darkening, lightening or just completely changing the hue of the crystal.
For example, if a transparent or slightly green amethyst is heated, it can turn into a brilliant Royal Purple. Also, as very dark crystals can look plain black, heating can lighten the crystal to bring it to a nice, vibrant shade of violet.
Amethyst is a stone that works well with minimalist or maximalist tastes. It can be trendy and chic with a classical twist and can dress up any outfit!
Think dainty studs, small classy pendants, tennis bracelets or a small amethyst ring if you prefer a minimalist style.
On the other hand, if you wish to make a statement with your jewelry, amethysts are perfect as the center stone for large cocktail rings or big statement necklaces. They add class and elegance as dangle or drop earrings and can be the focal point of the outfit with their striking color.
Amethyst promise rings
Promise rings are perfect for when you want to make a gesture of love without the commitment of marriage. While there are many types of promise rings out there, amethyst rings are one of our top picks.
Amethyst promise rings can be found in a range of designs. Unlike engagement rings where stones are traditionally faceted, promise rings give you a wider leeway in terms of design. You can choose elegant, boho, traditional, modern, big or small. It all depends on your preferences. It also adds that perfect pop of color to stand out on your finger.
If your partner has a birthday in February, then more reason to give an amethyst as it is widely known as the birthstone for February. February is also when you celebrate Valentine’s Day, so yet another reason to choose an amethyst promise ring.
An amethyst promise ring is a symbol of trust, a promise to your significant other to always be loyal. If your significant other means this much to you, then an amethyst promise ring is the right gift to give. Plus, it’s not mainstream!
Amethyst engagement rings
While most couples go down the diamond route, there are those who wish to be different.
Read our article – top ten engagement ring alternatives
If this sounds like you, you might want to consider an amethyst engagement ring. While not has hard as a diamond, they are durable and a small fraction of the price. On its own, an amethyst stone can stand out fairly well which is why you need to be careful in choosing the band in which to mount your purple crystal.
The top choice?
A white gold setting. White gold brings out the natural brilliance of the purple shade. The bright white shade contrasts as wells as complements the deeper shade of violet, making the amethyst gem stand out more. White gold is also suitable for all skin tones, so no matter the skin tone of the wearer, the ring will shine.
You can rarely find yellow gold settings for amethyst because yellow can easily overshadow the brilliance of purple. Besides that, yellow and purple are on the opposing spectrum of the color wheel and the colors contradict rather than complement. When it comes to fashion, purple and gold are not your everyday mix and match colors.
While we agree that an amethyst is a gorgeous choice for an engagement ring, you will have to consider whether or not the stone is durable enough for daily wear. This brings us to our next section.
Caring for your amethyst jewelry
Caring for an amethyst is quite easy. You can remove unwanted dust and oil deposit on the crystal with warm and soapy water. In addition to regular cleaning, you must take extra care while wearing the stone. Avoid bumping or scratching the stone against a rough surface. When storing the amethyst, keep it away from harder stones and metals that could scratch its surface.
Heat is an amethyst’s mortal enemy. Extreme and repeated exposure to sunlight can cause the color to fade, so try as much as possible avoid it. Harsh chemicals such as chlorine can also harm the stone as well as the band of the ring. So avoid wearing your jewelry while sunbathing, swimming and doing the dishes or the laundry. Professional maintenance once every year or so can prolong the life of your amethyst.
Even with all this care, you may have to replace the amethyst on your ring after some time. The plus side is that because amethysts are affordable, it will not be costly to have your stone replaced.
Amethyst, citrine and ametrine
These two stones come from the same family of quartz but sport different colors. While amethyst is popular for its purple hues, citrine is known for its golden yellow tones.
Due to the quartz crystal’s vulnerability to contaminants thereby causing other colors to be produced underground, natural citrines are very rarely found. In fact, most citrines that are sold on the market are heat treated to produce that yellow gold to orange shade.
In addition to the very rare occasions when citrine is formed naturally, it is unavoidable that trace elements contaminate a portion of the yellow gold crystal. When other trace elements taints only a portion of the quartz crystal, a phenomenon occurs where amethyst and citrine grow on the same crystal.
This event produces a crystal that we now call ametrine, an amalgamation of amethyst and citrine. Mimicking the twilight sky, a magical shade of violet and orange is produced on the crystal.
Symbolism and beliefs surrounding amethysts
This is a stone that is steeped in history and lore!
Amethyst originally got its name from the Alexandrian dialect word amethystos that meant “to not intoxicate”.
Legend has it that Dionysus, the god of wine, wished to punish humans for disrespecting his creation because of their mindless drinking and overindulgence. He descended from Olympus and punished the first human he came across, who was then turned to white quartz. The human was said to be a beautiful lady named Amethyst.
He immediately regretted what he had done when he saw the lady and began to weep tears of wine over the statue. As the wine seeped through the stone, it changed the color to purple. From this statue, all amethyst is said to originate.
Because of this connection to the Greek god of wine, the ancient Greeks believe that the amethyst was a protector against intoxication.
But amethyst is not merely there to stop us from getting drunk. Believed to be an emotional stimulant, crystal healers claim that amethyst stones inspire hidden creativity and awaken dulled imagination. By soothing a stressed mind inebriated by worldly passions, the amethyst stone allows ideas to freely flow.
Looking into a deeper perspective of intoxication, an amethyst does not only protect from physical intoxication but with emotional and spiritual drunkenness as well.
Whether or not these beliefs hold true, the amethyst is undeniably a beautiful stone that should be the part of any person’s jewelry collection!