Crystalline quartz in shades of purple, lilac or mauve is called amethyst, a stone traditionally worn to guard against drunkenness, and to instil a sober and serious mind. Amethyst is dichroic, showing a bluish or reddish purple tinge when viewed from different angles. Usually faceted as a mixed or step-cut, amethyst has distinctive inclusions which look like tiger-stripes, thumb-prints, or feathers. Some amethyst is heat-treated to change the color to yellow, producing citrine. Crystals that are part citrine and part amethyst are called ametrine.

Amethyst is found in alluvial deposits or in geodes. Some of the largest geodes containing amethyst are in Brazil. Amethyst from the Urals (Russia) has a reddish tinge; Canadian amethyst is violet. Other localities include Sri Lanka, India, Uruguay, Madagascar, USA, Germany, Australia, Namibia and Zambia.

Poor quality material is often tumbled to make beads. If a stone is pale it may be set in a closed setting or have foil placed behind it to enhance the colour. Amethyst has been imitated by glass and synthetic corundum.

Amethyst Pictures

Amethyst placed on rockAmethyst crystalAmethyst in blue agateAmethyst gemstone

Amethyst in different cutsAmethyst pendant

Cause of Color :

Color center caused by natural or artificial irradiation of Iron (Fe2+ / Fe3+) bearing quartz.

Chemical Composition :

Silica (Silicon Dioxide) SiO2

Crystal System / Forms :

Trigonal System

Cuts & Uses :

Facetted cuts, cabochon, carvings, beads, etc.

Dispersion : 0.013
Hardness : 7
Lustre : Vitreous.
Magnification :

Liquid and two phase, color zoning, negative crystals, zebra-stripe finger prints (structural), crystal inclusions, green fuchsite mica flakes / platelets in aventurine quartz, rutile / tourmaline needles in sagenitic quartz. Brazil law twinning is seen in natural quartz.

Optic Character :

Anisotropic, D.R.; Uniaxial positive. May exhibit a bull’s eye optic figure (quartz rotates the plane of polarisation parallel to the c-axis).

Pleochroism : Purple / Pinkish Purple
Refractive Index / Birefringence :

1.544 – 1.553 / 0.009. Range: 1.535 – 1.560

Simulants (with separation tests) :

Scapolite (optic figure/sign, U.V. fluorescence, inclusions, doubling), synthetic amethyst (inclusions, infra-red spectroscopy), glass (optic character), iolite (optic figure, pleochroism), natural spinel (optic character).

Sources :

Brazil, India, South Africa, Namibia, Madagascar, Zambia, Sri Lanka.

Specific Tests :
  • Piezoelectric: develops an electric charge when pressure is applied.
  • Pyroelectricity: develops an electrical charge when heated.
  • Diasterism in star variety (star visible in reflected and transmitted light).

Spectrum :

Not characteristic

Synthesis :

Hydrothermal process:

  • Identification: type of twinning, seed plate, breadcrumb inclusions, Raman / infra-red spectroscopy.

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