History and Properties of Amethyst Gem


History and Properties of Amethyst Gem

 

History

Amethyst is a violet crystal that belongs to the family of quartz minerals. It is the February Birthstone and its name is derived from the Greek word “amethystos” which means “against drunkenness”. The ancient Romans and Greeks made drinking vessels out of the mineral in the belief that it would ward off the effects of alcohol. The wine goblets were usually carved from the gemstone. Amethyst was an important gem in the Ancient Egyptian cultures and can be seen in various Egyptian antique items especially used as intaglio engraved gems, which are gems that are engraved with inscriptions or images only on one face. Amethyst amulets were worn by medieval European soldiers as a protection in the battlefields. They also believed that the gem helped people to stay calm and healed them. A large Amethyst geode was discovered in Brazil near Santa Cruz and it was exhibited in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1902. Amethyst was in the list of cardinal gems (most valuable gems) along with sapphire, emerald, diamond and ruby till the 18th century. However, it has lost its value ever since it was found to be abundantly available as deposits in many locations, especially in Brazil.

 

Properties

 Amethyst occurs in nature as an elongated crystal prism with a six sided pyramid. They can also occur in geodes (hollow rocks) as crystalline encrustations that only reveal the pointed ends of the specimens. The color of the gem was initially attributed to the manganese in the mineral. However, since the properties of the gem are highly susceptible to alteration through treatment, some institutions believe that the color of Amethyst could have been derived from an organic source. Traces of sulfur have been detected in the gem. Ferric thiocyanate has been suggested as a possible source of the color in the gemstone. Natural Purple Amethyst when treated for a long time in a kiln turns into citrine gem. Much of the gold, yellow and orange citrine in the gem markets today is actually heat-treated Amethyst. It is usually treated if the natural color of the stone is too dark. The very-light to pinkish-mauve variety is called “Rose de France”. It is typically from Brazil and appears very similar to Morganite, which is a pink beryl, also from Brazil. 


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