Birth Month: February
Attributes: Amethyst is a semi precious to precious variety of Quartz crystals that displays purple colouration. The purple colouration is caused by a reaction between iron trapped in the crystal lattice, and gamma radiation that occurs naturally underground. There are many variations of amethyst regarding colour, growth, shape and clarity. Some of the more well known growth types include single points, clusters, chevron, scepters, split growth or "artichoke" and druzy. Each type is symptomatic of the conditions it was subject to at its formation. Amethyst is considered the birthstone for February and has been used in jewellery since ancient Rome, it later became even more of a popular stone in the 16th century when it was considered to aid in curing drunkenness and nightmares! Although we can't attest to that, it is a stunning stone.
Grades: The grade of amethyst depends on where it was found, its colouration, transparency, purity and whether it displays any optical effects such as Ghosts or Phantoms. Pieces of amethyst that are pure and with deep colour are often faceted into jewells and then considered a precious stone.
Colours: Shades of Purple + White with varying transparency. Amethyst is a violet or purple variation of the pure crystallized form of SiO2 or Silicon Dioxide. The purple colouration comes from the inclusion of iron trapped within the crystal lattice and chemical composition. The iron attracts Gamma radiation from surrounding rocks (Gamma radiation occurs naturally from the nuclear decay of rocks deep underground) which causes the purple colour to intensify. The more irradiation the darker the colour.
Rarity: Amethyst occurs around the globe on almost every continent. Quartz or Silicon Dioxide crystals are the most common occurring mineral due to the abundance of the chemical elements Oxygen and Silicon from which it is made.
Countries of Origin:Amethyst can be found world wide in more deposits than I could write, to see a full list visit Mindat.org. Many locations have distinct colourations or patterns for the district.
Australian Amethyst is not yet prized worldwide. We are not a huge producer of Amethyst in a worldwide market, however the rarity of Australian Amethyst depending on which locality it was mined can increase the price of a collection. In Australia Amethyst is typically found in Ashburton River and Mt Phillips WA, Torrington and Wave Hill NSW and Agate Creek QLD inside Agate boulders. There are undoubtedly more Ametyst locations in Australia, however they are more tightly protected by those who mine them.
Hardness: 7 (Lower in impure varieties)
Amethyst has a hardness of 7 and is pretty sturdy in a polished form, however any specimens with crystal points should be protected as sometimes crystals become loose in their journey from underground to the surface, and can easily damage if dropped or handled roughly. Amethyst can be cleaned with or submerged in water with no damage to the crystal.
Chemical Composition: Silica (silicon dioxide, Si02)
Crystal System: 6-sided prism ending in 6-sided pyramid (typical)
Lore / Ancient Significance:
Greeks believed amethyst gems could prevent intoxication and the word Amethystos translates to Not Drunken. This myth was popular even into the 16th century!
European soldiers wore amethyst amulets as protection in battle in the belief that amethysts heal people and keep them cool-headed.
Egyptians Amethyst was largely employed in antiquity for intaglio as a luxury art form.
Tibetans consider amethyst sacred to the Buddha and make prayer beads from it.
Quartz is usually quite harmless unless broken or powdered. Broken crystals and masses may have razor-sharp edges that can easily cut skin and flesh. Handle with care. Do not grind dry since long-term exposure to finely ground powder may lead to silicosis.
When Amethyst is low quality and is unlikely to be sold, some factories heat it to 300°- 400°C, where the amethyst looses its purple tones and becomes a yellow/orange colour - The stone is then re-marketed and sold as "Citrine". Beware of yellow/orange/gold citrine clusters, the real stone is a brown/yellow clear quartz - Don't fall for it!
Aquarius Birth Stone
Symbol of sincerity - All round healer. Strengthens the immune and endocrine systems. Helps right brain activity and headaches. Good for meditation and inner peace. Calm and peaceful energy. Strong people attracted to this stone.