A truly gorgeous stone, amethyst is one of several varieties of the mineral quartz used for jewelry and ornamentation. Amethyst is characterized by its strong purple color, sometimes showing tinges of red.
When purple is mixed with colorless quartz in the same crystal, it is called amethystine quartz. Amethyst that is more pink than purple is sometimes called Rose of France. When purple and yellow appear in the same crystal, it is called ametrine.
Iron is the essential chromophore for quartz to gain the purple color. Heating amethyst changes the purple to yellow and is sold as citrine.
The geological supply of good quality quartz can nowhere meet the demand for it. Accordingly, for the past 50 years much of the gem grade amethyst sold is manufactured synthetically. The quality of synthetic amethyst is very high and, once cut and polished, cannot always be distinguished from the natural product, though characteristic imperfections in geologically formed crystals usually are a reasonable guide. Dyed glass is also sometimes passed off as amethyst.
Natural amethyst is produced in every continent. Brazil and China are major suppliers.
Image courtesy of irocks.com.
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