Amethyst

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Amethyst
Chemical composition Silicon dioxide SiO2
Crystal system Trigonal
Habit Prismatic
Cleavage Poor
Fracture Conchoidal
Hardness 7
Optic nature Uniaxial +
Refractive index 1.544 - 1.553
Birefringence 0.009
Dispersion Low, 0.013
Specific gravity 2.63 - 2.65
Lustre Vitreous
Pleochroism Weak to strong
Faceted Amethyst
Photo courtesy of
Precision Gems

Amethyst image gallery

Amethyst is a purple variety of the mineral quartz. It occurs in all intensities of the color purple from a light pastel to a depth of royal splendor. Until the beginning of the 20th century it was quite rare and costly. When vast deposits were found in Brazil, amethyst became very accessible and affordable. Amethyst has always been linked to the thinking process, ensuring clarity of vision. It inspires creativity, courage and valor. Amethyst has been successfully synthesized in the lab, so buyers need to be sure their source is qualified to separate natural from lab grown material.

Magnification

Amethyst is a type I stone in the GIA clarity grading system is usually free from eye visible inclusions. Typical inclusions visible with magnification are:

  • liquid feathers "fingerprints" (also known as "tiger stripes" or zebra stripes")
  • 2-phase, 3-phase inclusions
  • negative crystals
classic "fingerprint" inclusion
30X Magnification
By Barbra Voltaire


Polariscope

With the use of a polariscope one can find the typical "bull's eye" for quartz, but that can be seen in both twinned natural stones as in many twinned synthetics.

To discern the hydrothermal (twinned) synthetics from natural amethyst one must look at the interference figures of the stone without a conoscope. In natural, twinned, amethyst one will see a pattern known as "Brewster fringes". This can be seen when looking down the optic axis of the gem and on lateral rotation this pattern quickly disappears. With the twinned hydrothermal stones these fringes are not seen in the typical triangular form, rather they follow the outline of the stone. On lateral rotation this image will be in view much longer. This method works in most cases, for the remaining 1% to 3% one will need to infrared spectrometry to discern between the two.

Immersion in a liquid and magnification might aid greatly in spotting the "Brewster fringes".

G&G Articles on Amethyst 1934-1980

The GIA has published all the G&G's from 1934 until 1980 online. The organization of the list by subject was done by Joseph Gill.

References

  • Notari F., Boillat P.-Y., Grobon C. (2001), Quartz alpha-SiO2: Discrimination des améthystes et des citrines naturelles et synthétiques, Revue de Gemmologie AFG, N° 141/142, pp. 75-80.