Amethyst - Mineral & Healing Properties

Chemistry: Variety of: Quartz , SiO2

Class: Silicates

Subclass: Tectosilicates

Uses: Gemstone; ornamental stone; Amethyst glass; electronics

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  • Amethyst Cluster
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Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz and is a popular gemstone. If it were not for its widespread availability, amethyst would be very expensive. Its color is unparalleled, and even other, more expensive purple gemstones are often compared to its color and beauty.

Although it must always be purple to be amethyst, it can and does have a wide range of purple shades. Amethyst can occur as long prismatic crystals that have a six sided pyramid at either end or can form as druzes that are crystalline crusts that only show the pointed terminations. As a mineral specimen, amethyst is popular for its color and nice crystal shapes that produce a handsome, purple, sparkling cluster.

However, amethyst is not the same everywhere. Different localities can produce a unique amethyst to that particular region or even to that particular mine. Experts can often identify the source mine that a particular amethyst came from. The key to this is the specimen's color, shape of crystal, inclusions, associations and character of formation.

Amethyst is part of the Quartz family and its color can be a deep or pale purple and even a smoky purple. This coloration is due to a combination of very small amounts of iron and aluminum. The amethyst is one of the first stones collectors are attracted to due to its beautiful color.

Origin Of The Name

The name "amethyst" comes from the Greek word amethustos which means "not drunken." This was maybe due to a belief that amethyst would ward off the effects of alcohol, but most likely the Greeks were referring to the almost wine-like color of some stones that they may have encountered.

Interesting Facts

Often cut gems of amethyst are graded using the terms: Siberian, Uruguayan or Bahrain; to represent high medium and low grade respectively, regardless of the actual source. Because of the patchiness of the color distribution in the crystals, amethyst is often cut as brilliant round cuts to maximize the color. Other cuts can be used when the color is better distributed.

The color purple is traditionally the color of royalty and amethyst has been used since the dawn of history to adorn the rich and powerful monarchs and rulers. Today, amethyst is a lovely and affordable gemstone that is fortunately available in a wide variety of cut and uncut stones that we can all possess and admire.

Birthstone for: February

Where Is It Found

The following is a list of many of the more noteworthy localities and some of the attributes that characterize the amethyst found there.

Vera Cruz, Mexico -- very pale, clear, prismatic crystals that are sometimes double terminated and have grown on a light colored host rock. Crystals are typically phantomed, having a clear quartz interior and an amethyst exterior. Some are sceptered and phantomed.

Guerrero, Mexico -- dark, deep purple, prismatic crystals that radiate outward from a common attachment point. Often the crystals are phantomed opposite of Vera Cruz amethyst having a purple interior with a clear or white quartz exterior. These are some of the most valuable amethysts in the world.

Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul, Bahaia, Brazil -- crystals form in druzy crusts that line the inside of sometimes large volcanic rock pockets or "vugs". Some of the vugs form from trees that were engulfed in a lava flow millions of years ago and have since withered away. Other vugs are just gas bubbles in the lava. Some vugs can be quite large. The crystals that form are usually light to medium in color and only colored at the tops of the crystals. Most clusters form with gray, white and blue agate and have a green exterior on the vugs. Calcite sometimes is associated and inclusions of cacoxenite are common.

Maraba, Brazil -- large crystals with unattractive surfaces that are of a pale to medium color and often carved or cut into slices.

Thunder Bay, Canada -- a distinct red hematite inclusion just below the surface of the crystals is unique to this locality. Clusters are druzy crusts that line the fissures formed in ancient metamorphic rocks.

Uruguay -- crystals are dark to medium and form in druzy crusts that line the inside of volcanic vugs that have a gray or brown exterior. The crystals are usually colored throughout, unlike the Brazilian crystals, and form with a multicolored agate that often contains reds, yellows and oranges. Often amethyst- coated stalactites and other unusual formations occur inside these vugs.

Africa -- crystals are usually large but not attractive. However, the interior color and clarity are excellent and polished slices and carvings as well as many gemstones are prized and admired.

Maine, USA -- Dark druzy clusters that are not widely distributed today.

North Carolina, USA -- Druzy clusters that have a bluish-violet tint.

Pennsylvania, USA -- druzy clusters that filled fractures in metamorphic rocks. They are generally a brownish purple and patchy in color.

Colorado, USA -- druzy clusters form crusts inside of fissures in sandstone, often on top of a crust of green fluorite. Crystals are dark but rather small.

Italy -- both Vera Cruz like crystals, although not as well defined, and large parallel growth clusters with good evenly distributed color.

Germany -- associated with colorful agates that form a druzy light-colored crust.

Ural Mountains, Russia -- a very clear and dark variety that is cut for fine expensive gemstones, natural uncut clusters are rarely on the market.

What Do We Do With It

Amethyst is used on all types of jewelry as a gemstone.

Amethyst was used as a gemstone by the ancient Egyptians. Egyptian soldiers wore Amethyst in battle in order to retain their courage. Among the wealthy ancient Greeks and Romans, goblets of Amethyst were made to guard against drunkenness.

Shamans of several tribal societies were known to use Amethyst crystals as talismans, or objects of power. The crystals are also used in forms of natural healing, as with traditional Chinese medicine which has prescribed ground Amethyst to alleviate stomach pains or bad dreams.

Because of its piezoelectric properties quartz is used for pressure gauges, oscillators, resonators, and wave stabilizers.

Metaphysical Uses

In Greek mythology: Bacchus, " The God of Wine", was insulted by a mortal and he swore that the next mortal to cross his path would be attacked by his fierce tigers.ÿ When a beautiful maiden named Amethysta came along, the Goddess Diana turned the maiden into a beautiful statue of Quartz to save her.ÿ The remorseful God Bacchus wept tears of wine over the stone maiden, creating a purple quartz Amethyst.ÿÿ The Amethyst is a stone used to clear, cleanse, and connection with the spirit. Amethyst helps sharpen the mind and focus.ÿ The Amethyst is also known as the stone of stability, strength, protection and psychic dreams.

Purple colored stones are receptive and spiritual. Ruled by Jupiter and Neptune, Purple stones are great to wear for meditation. This is the stone of spirituality and contentment. It facilitates transmutation of lower energies into the higher frequencies of both spiritual and ethereal levels. It is representative of the principles of complete metamorphosis. It clears the aura and stabilizes and transmutes any dysfunctional energy located within ones body. Amethyst also bestows stability, strength, invigoration and innocent peace. It is also a stone of meditation, being excellent in conducting the energy of calm to help one to both enter and maintain the desired state. It opens and activates the crown chakra.

Amethyst has traditionally been used to counter addictive behavior and thought patterns. Using an amethyst helps with clarity of the mind and make it more difficult for addictive behaviors to alter one's mood.

Physical Characteristics

Color: Various shades of purple.

Luster: Vitreous (glassy)

Transparency: Opaque to transparent.

Crystal System: Trigonal

Crystal Habits: Macroscopic crystals occur as horizontally striated hexagonal prisms terminated by a combination of positive and negative rhombohedrons forming six sided pyramids. Amethyst often occurs as druzy masses showing only the rhobohedral terminations. It can also be massive.

Cleavage: None

Fracture: Conchoidal

Hardness: 7

Specific Gravity: 2.65

Streak: White

Associated Minerals: Numerous and varied but here are some of the more classic associations of quartz: amazonite a variety of microcline, tourmalines especially elbaite, wolframite, pyrite, rutile, zeolites, fluorite, calcite, gold, muscovite, topaz, beryl, hematite and spodumene.

Best Field Indicators: Distinct color purple and crystal habit.

Educational Videos

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