Diamonds may get all the publicity but I love coloured stones. Sapphires, rubies and emeralds are beautiful but are very pricey. However, there are a lot of beautiful coloured gems which are relatively inexpensive. One in particular is the amethyst, that gorgeous purple gemstone.
Amethyst is a member of the quartz family. Quartz comes in two forms: crystalline eg amethyst, rock crystal, citrines, and cryptocrystalline eg chalecedony which includes agates and jaspers. Amethyst is a transparent stone with colours ranging from a pale pink mauve to a deep purple. It has a hardness of 7 on the Mohr Scale. It may show colour zoning. A common and very distinctive inclusion is a ‘fingerprint’ or ‘tiger stripe’ which are liquid filled fissures within the stone.
Amethysts were used by the Eygptians. It was a popular stone for use in seals and intaglio rings used by ancient Romans and Greeks and was often used in Church regalia. Stones were originally mined in Siberia and were often very large in size. Two large amethysts are part of the British royal regalia.
Amethysts became more readily accessible in the lattter part of the 19th century with large deposits in Brazil and in Uruguay. It is and has been mined in the USA, Mexico, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Japan and Australia. The deeper the purple colour, the more valuable it is.