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Friday, February 17, 2012

The Royal Purple Stone Amethyst

At one time the amethyst was considered to be a precious stone and was even found among the crown jewels of France. This particular stone came from the basalt outcrops along the Bay of Fundy near Parsboro, Nova Scotia.

The French Crown Jewels that are kept in the Louvre

Amethyst is a form of quartz that has a hardness of seven making it suitable for jewelry and when cut it takes a very high polish.

An amethyst crystal from Brazil

Among the many forms of crystals that it takes is one special type called scepter crystals that form with a narrow bottom that widens at the top.

A scepter crystal of amethyst.

A common form for amethyst to take is the lining of the geode. The best place in the world to find these amethyst geodes is in the basalt flows of Uruguay that formed as bubbles in the basalt as it was cooling.

An amethyst filled geode from Uruguay.  In this case the crystals form a druse inside a bubble formed in basalt.  Note the green iron staining in the outside of the geode.  The geodes are eroded from the basalt flow and are found lying on the soil.
Photo by Didier Descouens

At other times it is just found cavity.     

This is a druse of amethyst found in a small geode.

When amethyst is cut the stone was usually faceted one of forms it takes is an emerald cut although there are many other types of faceted stones that it can take.

An emerald cut amethyst

Some amethyst is cut in the intaglio style something like a cameo only the surface of the stone has the design incised.

An intaglio cut amethyst.

For centuries amethyst is then used in jewelry as a faceted stone or en cabochon. It

A ring with an amethyst stone.

Sometimes amethyst if the crystal is large enough is carved in the statues. The Chinese are particularly adept at this artform.

an antique vase made in the 1600s containing many different stones including amethyst.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons


  1. Excellent, John. Up in the Thunder Bay area we have beautiful amethyst too.

  2. I've been to the amethyst mine between Marathon and Thunder Bay