Gemstone Focus: Amethyst

I have always loved gemstones. As a child I had a huge collection of gemstone rocks and basically, if it sparkled, glowed or was just pretty, I wanted it. That love has followed me into adulthood and has now made its way in my jewellery designs. I love working with rare, or unusual gemstones. And I love the colours you can find. So for the next little while I will share a post on a Gemstone once a month and try to tempt you into my obsession!

So, let’s start at the very beginning with ….

Natural Amethyst Crystals

AMETHYST, is a member of the quartz family which includes, Rose, Smokey, Citrine, Prasiolite (sometimes mistakenly called Green Amethyst) and others. It has been prized for millennia for it’s beautiful purple colour and historically has been prized and associated with many groups from royalty to religion to medicine. Amethyst is also the birthstone of February and the zodiac gemstone for Pisces a well as the gemstone of the 33rd wedding anniversary.

Physical properties, Care & Value:

Amethysts are a relatively hard stone sitting at 7 on the MOH’s scale (10 being hardest e.g.Diamond). As such it is a good all around stone for jewellery as it is relatively hard wearing. This isn’t to say that it can’t chip or crack if it is dropped or whacked on a hard surface. Just be aware of what you will be doing while you wear your jewellery.

Mohs Scale
The harder the gemstone, the longer wearing it is. Diamond is a 10, Ruby & Sapphire are 9, Amethyst is a 7 (along with all quartz)

In general caring for amethyst jewellery is easy. Avoid contact with chemicals such as household cleaners or hairspray. To clean, use a soft toothbrush or cloth and a solution of mild dish soap and warm water to gently scrub the stone and around the setting. Extreme exposure to sunlight or heat may cause the colour of amethysts to deteriorate as some are heat treated to intensify colour. So if you are planning on sunbathing in the Costa del Sol, remove your jewellery!

Up until the 18th century, Amethyst was valued as highly as Diamonds, Rubies and Sapphires, however, large deposits were found in Brazil and today it is classed as a semi-precious gemstone. This makes them very affordable and a favourite in many jewellery designs.

Amethyst Colours
 Pale to intense or very dark. – ┬ęGIA and Tino Hammid

Amethysts are typically graded A – AAAA. With some lowers grades of B. In terms of value, the general rule is the deeper the colour, the more valuable the stone and the higher the  grading. Hence a small deep coloured Amethyst is more valuable than a large pale Amethyst. That said, lighter colours have come into fashion recently and if you prefer a lighter stone then go for it! Clarity is also important in grading amethysts with clear stones and little colour zoning or few inclusions commanding higher prices.


Intaglio featuring Bacchus carved in Amethyst

Amethyst was once associated with Bacchus, the Greek god of wine. It was said to prevent drunken-ness if you wore one  or held one in your mouth (though I suspect that choking might have played a bigger role in not getting drunk). In fact, the Greek word Amethystos means “not drunk”. Other cultures believed  the amethyst protected crops from locusts, brought good fortune in war, protected against evil spirits and promoted intellect.

Well that’s it for Amethyst. If you’d like to learn more about a particular stone, let me know. I’ll be back next month with a new gemstone!

Thanks for joining me!

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