Amethyst is one of the most precious and valuable stones belonging to the quartz group of minerals, with exception to rare blue-green gem silica. It is recognized as the official birthstone for the month of February. Amethyst belongs to the macrocrystalline branch of quartz and owes its violet/purple color to iron and aluminum impurities. Without such coloring agents, amethyst would simply be transparent, ordinary colorless quartz. Like other varieties of macrocrystalline quartz, amethyst has transparent to translucent clarity and a vitreous luster. Cryptocrystalline varieties of quartz almost always occur with translucent to opaque clarity.

The legend of the origin of amethyst comes to us from a Greek myth. Dionysius, the god of intoxication, was angered one day by an insult from a human and swore revenge on the next mortal that crossed his path. Aggressive tigers would carry out his wish. Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana was to become the victim. Diana turned Amethyst into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the tigers’ brutal claws. Dionysius wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god’s tears stained the quartz purple, creating the famous gem.

Amethyst is the birthstone for those who are born in February or for the zodiacal sign of Pisces. Since purple is considered to be one of the royal colors, amethyst has a historical importance as an insignia of power. Fine amethysts are featured in the British Crown Jewels and they were also a favorite of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty. Amethyst also holds a high place in the ranks of the Christian church and was referred to as “the stone of bishops”. The Greek word “amethystos” translates into “not drunken” and it was often worn as an amulet to protect against intoxication. Since amethyst was considered an antidote against drunkenness, many wine goblets were carved from amethyst stone. Still to this day, violet-purple amethyst is a symbol of sobriety.

Amethyst Color

Amethyst owes its color to iron and aluminum impurities. The colors range from purple and violet to pale red-violet. The deep colors are the most valuable, particularly a rich purple with rose flashes. “Siberian” deep purple amethyst with red and blue flashes commands the highest prices. So-called green amethyst is produced by heat treatment, but since amethyst is defined by its purple color, green amethyst is not considered to be a true amethyst.

Amethyst Clarity and Luster

Fine amethyst is transparent, which means that the light passes through the stone unhindered. In translucent amethyst, the passage of light is slightly weakened as it travels through the stone. The best quality amethyst is “clean” and free of visible inclusions of any kind. Since amethyst is quite plentiful, there is little reason to buy stones with visible inclusions.

Amethyst Cut and Shape

Due to the variability of the color distribution in the amethyst crystals, it is often cut as brilliant rounds or ovals to maximize the color. Very rarely will amethyst be cut en cabochon. Other shapes and modified cutting styles are quite popular, but typically, only amethyst specimens with good color distribution are cut into fancy stones. Amethyst is available in just about every shape, cut and size. Calibrated sizes are easily found and fancy shapes such as trillions, hearts and shields are very common. Many artisans prefer to cut ornamental carvings with amethyst stone and so there are many amethyst carvings available on the market today.

Amethyst Jewelry

Amethyst is ideal for any type of jewelry design because it is considered both hard and durable. Amethyst stones are typically worn as pendants, necklaces, earrings, and especially for amethyst rings. Due to amethyst having a purple-violet color, many believe that amethyst should be worn by females only. However, purple is the color of royalty and royalty has no gender preference. Therefore, it is an excellent choice of stone for men or women. Amethyst is harder than most other materials, so it is very resistant to wear and tear. Amethyst is a favorite for many jewelers because of the large sizes and shapes available. Amethyst is the most popular purple-violet colored gemstone on the market today, followed by blue-violet tanzanite, spinel, sapphire and iolite.

Source: Gem Select