Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Amethyst Facts | Amethyst Origions | Amethyst History

Just the facts

Colored by iron, Amethyst is a variety of macrocrystalline Quartz that occurs in transparent pastel roses to deep purples.

Like many other gemstones, the quality of Amethyst varies according to its source. Amethyst from the Americas can be found in large sizes as opposed to African Amethyst (typically mined in Madagascar and Zambia), which is sometimes small but carries a higher saturation in color. Dark, highly saturated Amethyst is also found in Australia. The now historic Siberian variety is deep purple with occasional red and blue flashes and commands the highest price. However, the most prolific origin is Brazil, and if we were to believe Dionysus' wine was indeed the source of its color, Brazilian Amethyst would have been born from the finest vintages.

First appearing in Europe in 1727, Brazilian Amethyst soon became highly fashionable and expensive. Amethyst was very popular in France and England during the 18th century and many affluent families invested large amounts of money in this gemstone. For example, a necklace of Amethysts was purchased at a very high price for Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), wife of George III of England.

The chief mining areas for Brazilian Amethyst are Minas Gerais, Bahia and Maraba. Neighboring Uruguay offers spectacularly beautiful varieties of Amethyst that were only discovered a few years ago.

Rose de France Amethyst (also known as Lavender Amethyst) is the name for Brazilian Amethyst of a pastel lilac pinkish hue. Rose de France Amethyst was a very popular Victorian gem and while Rose de France Amethyst frequently appears in antique jewelry, it is currently experiencing a revival in popularity as part of a general awakening to the beauty of pastel gems.

Multi Color Amethyst beautifully melds the regal purple lavenders of Amethyst with the ice whites of White Quartz in one gem. Multi Color Amethyst occurs because of environmental changes during formation. At different times, the color-causing element (iron) was incorporated into the crystal, causing different color layers. Purposely cut to showcase this feature, Multi Color Amethyst is generally judged by the balanced contrast between its colors. Cutting the gem so both colors show is sometimes challenging for cutters. While notoriously difficult to cut consistently, a well cut multicolored gem is a real delight.


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