Amethyst is a quartz variety of magmatic origin. The gemstone forms in sites rich in iron oxide. The iron oxide compound is also responsible for the gem’s mysterious purple color. Classified as a semi-precious gemstone, amethyst is the most popular variety of quartz. Even though there are other gemstones which share the same color, amethyst is the gem most commonly associated with the color purple.
The Purple Blaze
Before the discovery of large amethyst deposits in Brazil, amethyst was a very valuable gemstone, in fact, it was as expensive as ruby. Since the purple dye was very expensive and rare in the past, only people of the higher class could afford it, which led amethyst to become the sign of wealth and prosperity.
The name of this mysterious gem comes from the Greek word “amethustos”, which literally means not drunken. The reason behind this interesting name is due to the fact that in the ancient times, people believed that amethyst prevented inebriation. As a result of this belief, goblets, glasses, and bowls made out of amethyst were very common in those times. Amethyst was valued for its supposed healing properties throughout history.
Amethysts show a color scale which ranges from light pinkish violet to a deeper purple. Since it belongs to the quartz family, green quartz may be incorrectly called green amethyst, which is not the correct name for it. Brazil, Sri Lanka, Siberia, and the Far East are the locations where the best varieties of amethyst may be found. Amethysts mined in South American countries tend to be larger in size. African mines, on the other hand, generally host gems with better colors, and saturation.
Amethyst has a hardness rating of 7 on the Mohs scale, which makes it a durable enough gemstone to be used in rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. However, the wearer should be careful and take precautions so that it does not get scratched by harder substances or get damaged.
Amethyst used to be regarded as a cardinal gem alongside with diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire. The discovery of large deposits in Brazil made the previously scarce gem quite accessible. Color is the main factor which affects the value of amethyst. Amethysts that are darker in color are regarded as higher quality ones.