Amethyst is the
birthstone of February, and associated
gemstone of zodiac signs
Pisces and Aries. One of the oldest
gem types known to man, this variety of
purple quartz has been found in tombs dating back to
the 1st Dynasty of Egypt, circa 3000 B.C. Once considered a rare Cardinal
gem alongside Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald,
Amethyst was traditionally reserved for the upper classes of society.
Today, although it is still practice for members of the Catholic Church to wear
set with this gem, Amethyst
is found worldwide and is classified as a
semi-precious gem type. Alongside Topaz,
Amethyst is one of the world's most popular
Amethyst is a variety
of the quartz, or silica group, one of the most widespread minerals on the face
of the earth. However, superior examples that are suitable for faceting into
gems are limited to relatively few regions.
Amethyst crystals can form in a variety of different situations: as
geodes in gas cavities of lava flows, in pegmatite veins or in metamorphic rocks.
In only a few instances does
Amethyst form as elongated prismic rock crystal; it normally forms small
thick crystals with six-sided terminations.
Amethyst can range
in color from pale lilac to an intense, almost black
purple with red flashes, the latter of which commands the highest prices.
The color in Amethyst
is due in part to the presence of ferric iron impurities and color centers linked
to natural radiation. Amethyst's
principal mining locations are in Brazil, Uruguay, Russia, Zambia, India, Sri Lanka,
Mexico and the U.S.