Amethyst belongs to the quartz group of minerals, and it is one of the most precious and valuable members of that category of gems. Amethyst is part of the macrocrystalline branch of quartz and owes its coveted violet/purple color to iron and aluminum impurities. Without these color-adding substances, amethyst would simply be ordinary colorless quartz. Like other varieties of macrocrystalline quartz, amethyst has transparent-to-translucent clarity and a vitreous luster.
Recognized as the official birthstone for those born in the month of February, amethyst is associated as well with the zodiac sign of Pisces. It also makes it an appropriate gift for the February holiday of Valentine’s Day.
Amethyst lends itself well to jewelry design because it is considered both hard and durable. In fact, amethyst is harder than most other materials, so it is very resistant to wear and tear. Amethyst stones are typically worn as pendants, necklaces, or rings. Amethyst is a favorite medium for many jewelers because of the large sizes and shapes of stones available.
Owing to amethyst’s distinctive purple-violet color, many believe that this stone can only be worn by females. Purple is traditionally the color of royalty, however, and royalty has no gender preference, making amethyst an excellent choice of stone for men or women. Amethyst is the most popular purple-violet colored gemstone on the market today, followed by blue-violet tanzanite, spinel, sapphire and iolite.
Here are the things to know when buying amethyst jewelry:
Hardness. The Mohs scale is a measure of the durability of a particular classification of stone. It indicates a stone’s resistance to surface scratching. In the case of the amethyst, a Mohs hardness of 7 indicates that any stone with a hardness of less than 7 will not be able to scratch its surface. As an example, diamonds are the hardest stone with a Mohs measurement of 10.
Color. The value placed upon amethysts is subjective. Generally, the most valuable stones are those with a bright purple color and rose-colored flashes. Amethyst coloring varies across a wide spectrum and includes deep purple, violet, lavender, and even mauve. The darkest colors are classified as Siberian amethysts. Mid-spectrum stones are called Uruguayan amethysts. Pale stones are Bahrain amethysts. There is also a stone of a dark pink color called the Rose of France.
Heat treatment. Treating an amethyst stone with heat will artificially deepen its color. Since darker stones are more sought after than those with a lighter shade, many amethysts on the market are heat-treated. In addition, while natural amethysts can fade over time, heat-treated amethysts retain their rich coloring.
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