It's raining purple amethyst! At least that was the buzz last week at the AGTA Gem Show in Tucson. I can't help but wonder if The Artist Formerly Known As Prince had some sort of influence over the resurgence. Either way, it is a great homage to the rock icon.
February birthstone: Jubilee Talis Cuff in 18k gold and amethyst
Amethyst Royal Past
Amethyst is making a long overdue comeback in the gem world. Due to its hardness (7 on the mohs' hardness scale), lack of availability and intense beauty, amethyst was once reserved only for church leaders and nobility. Long ago, the February birthstone was considered as precious as diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds. Today it is available in abundant quantities, varying qualities, cuts and sizes.
Understanding the Different Types of Amethyst
What's important to know about this most popular gemstone is that there are all types of amethyst on the market, so educating yourself before making a purchase will serve you well.
How to Shop for Good Amethyst Color
Color is very much personal preference, however, the most desirable and valuable color of amethyst is a deep rich purple or a slightly red/purple color. It should always look purple and not black.
Example of top quality amethyst gemstone: Trenza Noble Ring with 14mm square cut amethyst
When shopping for amethyst one of the most important things to look for is consistency in color saturation. Many low quality amethyst stones have poor color zoning. The purple stone may have a brown or bronze colored hue to it or, the stone might look pretty on the top, but when you flip it over you may see a faded lighter area on the stone. To check out the color zoning, place the stone face down on a white background and examine the color.
example of color zoning photo from GIA
It may also surprise you to know that it is common practice to heat treat amethyst. Applying heat to a very dark (almost black) amethyst can lighten its color to make it much more desirable. Heat treating is an enhancement technique used in most quartz stone varieties and is not a reason to shy away. What you should definitely steer clear of is any amethyst or other quartz stone that has been dyed. You can usually tell if a stone has been dyed by taking a good look at it through a jewelers loupe or magnifying glass. If you see a concentration of color near fault lines, inclusions or imperfections of the stone, then you can bet it has been dyed.
Understanding Amethyst Clarity
A good quality amethyst stone is "eye clean." This means that to the naked eye you cannot see any fractures or inclusions, however, under magnification you may see imperfections. This is quite acceptable for amethyst when it is of good color. Obviously, the fewer imperfections in the stone the higher the price. Amethyst stones that are highly included are typically carved into cabochon stones or beads. When you hear the term "bead quality" that means the specimen isn't nice enough to be cut into a faceted stone but is still attractive enough to carve into a bead.
It's also worth mentioning that seeing bubbles inside your stone is a big red flag that what you are looking at is synthetic.
Sterling Silver Trenza Noble Grand Cuff Bracelet with Emerald Cut Amethyst
Amethyst is a fabulous gemstone for the fashionable crowd and jewelry lovers alike. Its broad range of sizes, creative cuts, hardness and reasonable pricing per carat enables designers and fashionistas to showcase a lot of style without breaking the bank.
If you have anything of interest to add to this blog post, or if you have a question, please drop me a line!