Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz.  It is an extremely popular gemstone and is the birthstone for February.  Amethyst comes in a wide range of purple colors and is a very durable gem with a hardness of 7 on the mohs scale.  Amethyst has a trigonal crystal system with a refractive index of 1.544 to 1.553.   Click here to see our finished Amethyst Jewelry.


Chemical Composition and Name SiO2 - Silicon Dioxide
Hardness 7
Refractive Index 1,544 - 1.553
Bi-refringence 0.009
Specific Gravity 2.65 - 2.66
Crystalline System Trigonal  (Rhombohedral)
Optic Sign Positive
Other Optical Properties Uniaxial

 Amethyst is the clear purple, mauve or violet form of the mineral quartz. As such it is related to citrine which is the yellow form of quartz, and also to rock crystal which is the colourless variety. Amethyst is a macrocrystalline variety of the mineral quartz.

Quartz is the most abundant single mineral on earth. It makes up about 12% of the earth's crust, occurring in a wide variety of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks.Amethyst has been found in siliceous volcanics, occurring as macroscopic crystals and drusy coverings inside of agate lined amygdaloidal cavities or vugs, often forming geodes. Amethyst also occurs in quartz veins. The purple color of amethyst is due to small amounts (approximately 40 parts per million) of iron (Fe4+) impurities at specific sites in the crystal structure of quartz.

The difference between amethyst and citrine is only the oxidation state of the iron impurities present in the quartz. Upon heating, the iron impurities are reduced and amethyst's purple color fades and becomes yellow to reddish-orange (citrine), green, or colorless depending on the site and original oxidation state of the iron impurities present and the amount and duration of the heating. The amethystine color usually can be regained by irradiation which re-oxidizes the iron impurities. This irradiation can be done by synthetic means, or it can occur in nature by radioactive decay of nearby radioactive minerals. In most cases this is a reversible process, however excessive heating may change the distribution of the iron impurities at the different sites within the quartz making it impossible to convert it back to amethyst by subsequent irradiation. The heating process can occur naturally or synthetically. At the present, it is not possible to determine whether or not an amethyst or citrine was synthetically irradiated or heated.

Amethyst is recognized by its color, crystal habit, occurance, hardness, glassy luster, conchoidal fracture and lack of cleavage. Amethyst has been used as gemstones and other ornamental objects for thousands of years.

The early Greeks believed that amethyst would protect one from the effects of drunkenness when consuming alcohol. A possible explanation for this unusual virtue being given to amethyst is that when water is poured into a cup fashioned of amethyst, it would have the appearance of wine yet could be drunk without experiencing wine's normal inebriative effect. In ancient cultures, amethyst amulets were worn as antidotes against poison, to dispell sleep, as protection against harm in battle and to sharpen one's wits. In medieval times, amethyst was still credited with protecting one from the effects of drunkenness, both of the cup and also from the intoxicating effects of being in love. The wearing of amethyst was also known to protect soldiers from harm and give them victory over their enemies, and assist hunters with the capture of wild animals.

Amethyst is said to bring serenity and calm, to enhance one's ability to assimilate new ideas, and to assist during meditation. It is also said to give strength and mental stability, and to provide balance between one's physical, emotional, intellectual states. Amethyst is also said to make one shrewd in business matters. Amethyst is said to help remove toxins from the body and to help treat arthritus. It also said to be usefull in treating a number of disorders including those of the digestive system, heart, nervous system, skin and hearing and to help provide relief from pain and to strengthen the immune system.  

The astrological signs of amethyst are Pisces, Virgo, Aquarius and Capricorn. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February. Amethyst is the symbolic gemstone for the 17th wedding anniversary.

The Purple Gem: Amethyst
By Gina Ritter

Royalty wore purple, as so shall we. Amethyst: transparent, purple quartz has been in demand throughout history from Catherine the Great to the British royals and Egyptians. Amethyst ranges in color from pale lilac (sometimes coined "Rose de France") used in Victorian jewelry to deep purple of historical royalty.

Today, amethyst is mined in South American countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Argentina, as well as in Zambia, Namibia and other African countries. Some darker amethyst is mined in Australia.

In Greek legend, it was the tears of the god of intoxication, Dionysus, which stained the quartz to the purple amethyst color it is today. Dionysus, one of the "black sheep" of the Gods, was angered by a mortal and foolishly swore revenge on any mortal that was unlucky enough to cross paths with ferocious tigers he created to mirror his anger. The young, mortal maiden, Amethyst, was an unsuspecting victim. The goddess Diana turned Amethyst into a protective statue of pure crystalline quartz and it was then that Dionysus wept tears of wine on her statue in remorse.

Interestingly. The Greek word amethystos means " not drunken" or "without drunkenness" and amethysts were used in ancient Greece as a sobriety aid by carving wine goblets from the purple quartz or holding an amethyst gem under your tongue while drinking. Modern Greece still enjoys its sobering symbolism today.

In the Middle Ages it was thought to encourage celibacy, so Catholics and others adorned themselves and their churches with Amethysts as a sign of piety. Likewise, many Bishops continue to wear amethyst rings today and rosaries of Tibet are fashioned with amethysts, as they were sacred to Buddha.

Amethysts are encrusted in the famed British Crown Jewels and the International Colored Gemstone Association website states "Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst was able to dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence."

Of course, today we still love amethyst quartz for its uniqueness and royal beauty. From adults to children wear it on our hands, wrists and at our neckline. Strikingly beautiful hatpins and brooches are often encrusted with amethyst, and we also know it to be February´;s birthstone. Amethyst makes a great gift for your February baby.

Gina Ritter is the owner and publisher of Natural Family Online as well as a freelance and fiction writer. Visit her at GinaRitter.com

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