The Precious Gemstone Amethyst

Gemstone amethyst with yellow calcite Uruguay 300x200

Uncut amethyst with yellow calcite from Uruguay, photo by Géry Parent - wallpaper size: 1920 x 2880

This is a picture of the gemstone Amethyst and yellow Calcite (the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate: CaCO3) mined from Uruguay.

Amethyst, a gemstone used in jewelry, is one of the several varieties of quartz with its primary colors varying from light violet to deep purple, and sometimes showing any one or both of its secondary colors, red and blue. It is a type of quartz (Silica) with the chemical formula SiO2 (silicon dioxide), and its hardness is the same as quartz, making it a precious stone ideal for embedding into jewelry.

The gemstone got its name from a Greek derivative word which literally means ‘not intoxicated’ or ‘non-intoxicating’ because of the belief among the ancient Greeks and Romans that wearing or owning Amethyst would prevent the owner from getting intoxicated.

This mineral stone gets its colors because of the presence of impurities of iron and other trace elements in it. The color variation is also because of the quantity and type of these impurities in individual stones or blocks of it.

The gemstone is also synthesized in the laboratory (Synthetic amethyst) as an imitation of the top quality natural amethyst for sale in the market. Mostly it is very difficult to distinguish the natural stone from the synthesized one, unless the stones are subjected to very expensive and technologically advanced gemological testing.

In the ancient world, as a gemstone, Amethyst was used by the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. In the medieval times, European soldiers wore amethyst as amulets for protection from dangers in the battlefield. Discovery of amethyst beads in Anglo-Saxon graves in England shows that the stones were popularly used in England too.

Amethyst, along with diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, was one of the most expensive precious stones until 18th century when very large deposits of Amethyst were discovered in Brazil and other countries. Large scale commercial mining and marketing of the Brazilian amethyst brought down the value of the gemstone considerably in the international market. Currently, the major Amethyst producers are Brazil, Uruguay, South Korea, Austria, Russia, India, Zambia, United States and Canada.

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