Understated Elegance: About Quartz and the Gemstone Amethyst

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About the gemstone amethyst, quartz and famous amethysts in history.

Amethyst is probably the most popular gem of the quartz family of gemstones. The color of Februarys gemstone ranges from an elegant lilac to the regal and more desirable violet. The ancient Egyptians were known to be fond of amethyst. And they were chosen to be included in the British crown jewels, as well as the collections of other European monarchs and the Catholic Church.

Quartz is widely found on earth and like quartz amethyst can be found in different types of rock from igneous to pegmatites. The color pigment of amethyst is caused by iron, its impurities and interactions. Amethyst crystals can also be phantomed with clear quartz on the inside, amethyst on the outside and vice versa. When amethyst and quartz crystals are combined they are called amethyst-quartz. Amethyst jewelry should be protected from prolonged exposure to the sun as its color will diminish. Heat also effects the color of amethyst. In fact lesser quality amethysts are often heat treated to produce yellow citrine. Citrine is the most valuable type of quartz gemstone because it is rarer than amethyst. Heat treatment can also produce prasiolite, green quartz, also known as vermarine.

Some of the best quality amethyst comes from the state of Bahia in Brazil and the Minas Gerais region. There amethyst is often found with smoky quartz. Amethyst is also found in Southern Brazil and the Catalan Grande mine in Uruguay .Uruguayan amethyst is famous for its red tint. Lilac colored amethyst crystals are found in Veracruz, Mexico and Arkansas in the USA. Good quality amethyst also comes from western India and Sri Lanka. In recent years deposits have been found in Zambia and Madagascar. While the African crystals are smaller than those found in South and Central America, their violet color is more uniform and less patchy. There are also abundant deposits of amethyst in Russia and Siberia.

Amethyst-quartz  

The name amethyst comes from Greek mythology. It was believed that drinking wine from a goblet made of amethyst could prevent one from becoming drunk. The ancient Greek word for sober is amethystos.

Famous Amethysts in History

The British crown jewels collection includes the Scepter of the Cross, also known as the Sovereign’s Scepter. The scepter is an important part of royal tradition as it is used for coronations. The scepters center piece is the star of Africa’s diamond. At the top of the scepter is a huge dark purple amethyst. The crown of Monza from the church of St. John of Monza includes amethyst gemstones from the ninth century. One of the largest amethysts in the world, at 343 carats is kept at the Natural History Museum in London. Also at the museum is the Delhi Sapphire, which was identified as an amathyst. It originates from the 18th century and was willed to the museum in 1943. It is also known as the Cursed Amethyst because of its turbulent history, and it is said to bring the owners bad luck. Amethysts form part of a fleur-de-lis style brooch on display at the Louvre in Paris. The brooch was made in the 15th century and belonged to the French royal family, too be worn on special occasions.

 The Cursed Amethyst.

All photos from photobucket.com

2 comments

Diane Gray
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Posted on Apr 11, 2010
Belinda Dobie
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Posted on Apr 8, 2010