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- Mineralogy and geology*
- Metaphysical, Spiritual and Healing** Properties***
- Common Associations
Mineralogy and Geology of Amethyst
Amethyst – a beautiful gemstone so popular that the name is synonymous with its color, a violet to deep purple. In ancient times it was valued for its reputed ability to guard against drunkenness (amethustos means “not drunk”). In modern times it is valued as the birthstone for February, and as a very beautiful stone that is relatively accessible and affordable in many forms.
Before the 18th century, amethyst was rated as a precious gemstone (like emerald, ruby or diamond), but the importation of relatively abundant amethyst from Brazil since those times has changed its modern-day status to “semi-precious.”
Properties of Amethyst
- Classification: tectosilicate (framework)
- Crystal system: hexagonal
- Color: shades of violet/purple
- Streak: colorless (harder than streak plate)
- Luster: vitreous (glassy)
- Diaphaneity: translucent to transparent
- Cleavage: none
- Fracture: conchoidal
- Mohs scale hardness: 7
- Specific gravity: 2.6 - 2.7
- Named after amethustos, Greek for “not drunk”
- Geological occurrence: granitic pegmatites and vugs in volcanic rocks
Mineralogy and Geological Occurrence
Amethyst is a form of quartz (formula SiO2) with a purple coloration caused by the presence of around 10 – 100 ppm iron. Natural, low-level gamma radiation of the iron produces the purple color. The purple color is often most intense close to the tips of crystals, along the edges of prismatic crystals, or (more rarely) in phantom growth layers inside the crystals. Heating amethyst (or placing it in strong sunlight) can cause the color to fade, or even turn to yellow/orange tones.
Amethyst crystals do not get very large, crystals longer than 12” (30cm) are rare. The common growth forms include [Mindat.org]:
- Druzy crystal aggregates which outline cavities; the crystals are usually short-prismatic and often lack prism faces. Most common in volcanic rocks, but also in hydrothermal veins, and even in cavities in sedimentary rocks;
- Scepters (late syntaxial overgrowth) on other color varieties of quartz, in particular in high- to medium-temperature environments like alpine-type fissures and pegmatites;
- Split-growth crystals ("artichoke quartz") in hydrothermal veins in ore deposits, but also in volcanic rocks.
- As individual well-formed crystals in small cavities and fissures, in particular in volcanic rocks.
- As hydrothermal vein filling, often with several growth phases with variable color that cause a banding pattern.
Amethyst can be found on most continents. Currently, commercially valuable amethyst is sourced from South America (Brazil, Bolivia and Uruguay), Africa (Zambia), Asia (South Korea) and Canada (Ontario). In the past, India, Russia and Austria were major producers of amethyst.
In the United States, amethyst is the state stone of South Carolina. It also occurs in North Carolina, Georgia, Maine, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and the Great Lakes region. Other states have less widespread occurrences of amethyst, including New Mexico.
Amethyst has no major industrial uses; its major value is as a semi-precious stone for jewelry, for the metaphysical trade and for home décor.
New Mexico Amethyst
Amethyst has been officially reported from 12 counties in New Mexico, typically associated with volcanic or sedimentary terranes. Occurrences include:
Catron - the Mogollon district
Cibola – the Zuni Mountains district
Colfax – Tres Hermanos area
Dona Ana – Organ Mountains and Palm Park near Hatch
Grant – Black Hawk, Central, and Lone Mountain districts.
Hidalgo – Fremont district
Luna – Baker Ranch geodes
McKinley – east of Fort Defiance
San Juan – the minette agglomerate of Ship Rock
Santa Fe – Cerillos and Ne Placers districts
Sierra – Chloride, Kingston, and Tierra Blanca districts.
Socorro – Council Rock, Ladron, San Jose, and San Lorenzo districts.
- European bishops of the Catholic church traditionally wore an amethyst signet ring as a symbol of both royalty and purity.
- Amethysts have long graced the heads and necks of European royalty as tiaras, parures, and necklaces. Click HERE for a review of some famous royal amethyst jewelry. If you love following the British royal family, click HERE for an article devoted to their amethyst jewelry.
- The highest-grade amethyst (called "Deep Russian") is exceptionally rare, so when one is found, its value is dependent on the demand of collectors
- The largest amethyst ever found (according to the internet) is the “Empress of Uruguay”, an amethyst geode almost 11 feet high, weighing 2.5 tons. It’s on display at the Australian Museum The Crystal Caves (see photo)
Metaphysical, Spiritual, and Healing** Properties***
Amethyst – another iconic mineral and gemstone that gives its name to a color, amethyst – more like a whole range of colors, as no one told Mother Nature to make a single shade of amethyst! The purple-lilac-mauve-violet tones of amethyst associate its energy with the crown (6th) chakra; the more violet hues also relate to the 5th chakra (throat).
Amethyst is a stone of spirituality and contentment, known for transmuting lower energies to higher vibrations, thus providing strength and integration. According to Melody* amethyst represents complete metamorphosis, thus providing support in times of change in your inner self or outer life.
Wearing and Carrying Amethyst
Amethyst is imminently suitable for carrying in a pocket or wearing as jewelry. Amethyst works well with the crown and third eye chakras, so earrings of amethyst bring its energy closest to those locations. Amethyst works well on the body, so pendants, bracelets, rings and anklets also work well.
The book Crystal Muse describes amethyst as a stone of spirituality, intuition, and peace. The authors provide several ideas for calming “monkey mind” and promoting sleep. Try placing a piece of amethyst in yoru pillowcase, of have a bowl of crystals with amethyst on your bedside table. The book provides instructions for making an eye “pillow” filled with amethyst stones, flaxseed and lavender to place on the eyes at bedtime. Amethyst is also included as part of several rituals in the book.
Feng Shui and Amethyst
Amethyst enhances every home and work space. Can you imagine what it would be like to have an amethyst cathedral sitting in your entryway, or your work space? Amethyst helps to clear energy, replacing it with its own high vibration, soothing and harmonizing energy.
In feng shui amethyst works well in the Xun (wealth area, far left corner of the house when you enter by the front door). It is associated with the color purple, so amethyst can boost energy in this area.
The Qian (helpful people) area of the bagua (the closest right corner of the house when you walk in the front door) also benefits from the balancing effect of amethyst.
Crystal Grids and Amethysts
Whether you work with crystal grids or just like putting together altars with crystals, amethyst provides fabulous healing energy. Like quartz, amethyst is a “seeker” crystal, great for crystal grids for manifesting goals and desires. This makes it an excellent “desire” stone (outer circle of grid), but it can also be used in any other position as its energizing, similar to quartz. Multiple crystal grid examples working with amethyst are in Kiera Fogg’s book Crystal Gridwork.
Amethyst Energy in Myth and Lore
Amethyst appears in both present-day culture and ancient lore in countries around the world. Tibetans consider amethyst sacred to Buddha so it is often used for prayer beads and malas. In In biblical lore, amethyst was among the stones adorning Aaron’s breastplate. Amethyst often adorns liturgical items such as pectoral crosses, and is popular for use in Catholic clergy rings.
Amethyst was considered a protective stone since ancient times, in particular against drunkenness. This concept was popularized by a poem written in 1576 by Frenchman Remy Belleau about Bacchus (the Roman god of wine) and Amethyst:
"Long ago, a beautiful maiden was on her way to worship at the Temple of Diana. However, she had the misfortune of crossing paths with the god of wine, Bacchus. Angered since he’d just suffered some slight, he’d vowed to take revenge on the next person he met. He spied the maid and unleashed his two guardian tigers upon her. As the great beasts bounded towards the hapless lass, the goddess Diana intervened. To spare her such a terrible fate, she turned her into a pure, clear stone. Immediately, remorse seized Bacchus. To atone for his actions, he poured his wine over the stone, staining the crystal a deep, violet hue. And so, the maiden Amethyst lent her name to the crystal.
According to Judy Hall (see below), amethyst offers the power of serenity.
Common Associations for Amethyst
- Color - shades of lavender, mauve, to deep purple
- Chakra - 7th (crown) and 6th (third eye)
- Numerology - vibrates to the number 3
- Planets - Jupiter, Neptune
- Zodiac - Aquarius, Pisces, Virgo, Capricorn; Dragon
- Bagua - Zun (wealth,) qian (helpful people)
- Elements - Metal, wood
- Birthstone - February
- Wedding Anniversary - 6th
- Ascended Masters - Holy Amethyst, twin flame of Archangel Zadkiel (of the Violet Flame) who helps transmute negative experiences into learning and love (from Keepers of the Light by Kyle Gray).
- Other - Violet Flame reiki
* Mineralogical information is from mindat.org
** Always consult with your medical professional for any physical or long-term healing issues.
*** Metaphysical properties come from:
Love Is in the Earth (1995) Melody, Earth-Love Publishing House, 726 pp.
The Crystal Bible, A Definitive Guide to Crystals (2003) Judy Hall, Walking Stick Press, 399 pp.
Crystal Muse (2017) Heather Askinosie and Timmi Jandro, Hay House, 285 pp.
Crystal Gridwork (2018) Kiera Fogg, Weiser Books, 128 pp.