Amethyst has been one of the most popular forms of quartz for many years. As a gemstone, it is also one of the most recognizeable.
Much of this is due to its unique colors and aesthetic properties.
Below, we will look at the history, uses, costs, and popularity of amethyst.
History of Amethyst: How Long Have People Been Using this Gemstone?
Appearance: What Does Amethyst Look Like?
As we mentioned above, amethyst is a type of quartz known for its purple coloration. The range of purples, often fluctuating between light (almost lavender) and deep, dark purple, often assume an almost smokey coloration as they mix with grays, blacks, and whites.
Unlike clear quartz, which often carries a milky white or translucent coloration, amethyst is primarily purple. It can also appear somewhat smooth and rounded or be sharp and jagged.
Both the rounded, polished version and the jagged form are both sold and used for various purposes. The polished stones often tend to be used as jewelry more often while the jagged form tends to hold decorative use.
History: How Long Have Humans Been Using It?
As we know of many stones believed to have strong metaphysical properties – like azurite – people have been drawn to amethyst for thousands of years.
For amethyst, many believed the gemstone had both protective and healing powers. While this claim has been disputed in recent centuries, the gemstone’s appearance can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece.
The ancient Egyptians regularly wore amethyst as jewelry, often crafting it into amulets. It was believed to have positive benefits to those entering into the afterlife.
The fascination with amethyst continued into the Middle Ages. During this time, however, the gemstone became associated with royalty, nobility, and the clergy. The spiritual properties of amethyst made it popular during religious ceremonies.
Etymology: What Does the Name Mean?
Amythyst is derived from the Greek word “amethystos,” which translates roughly to “the state of not being drunk.”
Interestingly enough, one of the aforementioned metaphysical properties attributed to amesthyst is that it was believed to protect those who came in contact with it from being drunk. It was typical for Greeks who regularly consumed alcohol (especially in high amounts) to either wear amethyst or carry it with them. This was even more common during travel.
Modern Uses, Costs, Locations, and Popularity
How is Amethyst Used Today?
As we discussed, amethyst remains an incredibly popular gemstone and perhaps the most recognizeable and popular variation of quartz.
While the belief in metaphysical benefits has waned (in many circles), amethyst remains an incredibly popular item in both decoration and jewelry.
That said, there are still segments of the world population that incorporate amethyst into ceremonies, rituals, and other perceived healing techniques.
Location: Where is Amethyst Found Naturally?
One of the most fascinating things about amethyst is that is occurs naturally and can be found throughout the world.
Some of the locations in which amethyst is most abundant include:
- Brazil: The large South American country remains one of the largest producers of natural amethyst in the world. The gemstone can be found in both clusters and geodes in Rio Grande
- Uruguay: Unsurprisingly, the country immediately south of Brazil is also home to naturally occurring deposits of amethyst. While considerably smaller in size than Brazil, Uruguay’s Artigas region regularly produces quality gemstones.
- Zambia: The southern African country of Zambia – primarily in the Kariba mine – houses considerable amethyst deposits.
- Russia: Despite being situated far north of the previous three countries, Russia is also home to vast amethyst deposits. These are located most commonly in the Ural Mountains, Siberia, and the eastern portions of the vast country.
- United States: Colorado, Maine, Arizona, and North Carolina are all home to natural amethyst deposits. This may be surprising to many readers as there is a large geographic span between Arizona/Colorado and North Carolina (located in the southeastern US) and Maine (situated in the most northeastern corner).
- Canada: Ontario and Nova Scotia are the most common locations for natural amethyst. Considering that Maine (USA) has natural deposits, both Ontario and Nova Scotia are located in fairly close proximity.
- Madagascar: While this is an island, it is located in fairly close proximity to Zambia (Africa). It is a strong producer of natural amethyst.
Cost and Popularity
As for cost, the price will ultimately depend on factors like quality, coloration, and place of origin.
Gem enthusiasts can expect to pay up to $10 per carat, though rare, high-quality stones (like Siberian amethyst) can run much higher. Large geodes (spherical rocks with hollowed caverns containing crystals) can run several hundred thousand US dollars.