AskDefine | Define amethyst

Dictionary Definition

amethyst adj : of a moderate purple color n : a transparent purple variety of quartz; used as a gemstone

User Contributed Dictionary

see Amethyst



From ἀμέθυστος from ἀ- + μεθύω from μέθυ. The Greeks believed that the amethyst prevented intoxication.


amethyst (plural amethysts)
  1. A transparent purple variety of quartz, used as a gemstone.
  2. A purple colour.
    amethyst colour:   
  3. The purple tincture when emblazoning the arms of the English nobility.


  • Croatian: ametist
  • Dutch: amethyst
  • Finnish: ametisti
  • German: Amethyst
  • Italian: ametista
  • Japanese: 紫水晶 (むらさきすいしょう, murasakisuishō), アメシスト (ameshisuto)
  • Latin: amethystus
  • Maltese: ametist
  • Polish: ametyst
  • Romanian: ametist
  • Russian: аметист
  • Japanese: 紫色 (むらさきいろ, murasakiiro)
  • Polish: ametystowy, fioletowy


  1. Having a colour similar to that of the gemstone


  • Polish: ametystowy, fioletowy

See also


Extensive Definition

Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz often used as an ornamental stone in jewellery. The name comes from the Ancient Greek a- ("not") and methustos ("intoxicated"), a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness; the ancient Greeks and Romans wore amethyst and made drinking vessels of it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.


Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz, its chemical formula is SiO2.
In the 20th century, the color of amethyst was attributed to the presence of manganese. However, since it is capable of being greatly altered and even discharged by heat, the color was believed by some authorities to be from an organic source. Ferric thiocyanate was suggested, and sulfur was said to have been detected in the mineral.
More recent work has shown that amethyst's coloration is due to ferric iron impurities. Further study has shown a complex interplay of iron and aluminium is responsible for the color.
On exposure to heat, amethyst generally becomes yellow, and much of the citrine, cairngorm, or yellow quartz of jewelry is said to be merely "burnt amethyst". Veins of amethystine quartz are apt to lose their color on the exposed outcrop.
Synthetic amethyst is made to imitate the best quality amethyst. Its chemical and physical properties are so similar to that of natural amethyst that it cannot be differentiated with absolute certainty without advanced gemological testing (which is often cost-prohibitive). There is one test (which is not 100 percent certain) based on "Brazil law twinning" (a form of quartz twinning where right and left hand quartz structures are combined in a single crystal which can be used to identify synthetic amethyst rather easily. In theory however it is possible to create this material synthetically as well, but this type is not available in large quantities in the market.


Amethyst was used as a gemstone by the ancient Egyptians and was largely employed in antiquity for intaglios. Beads of amethyst were found in Anglo-Saxon graves in England. It is a widely distributed mineral, but fine, clear specimens that are suitable for cutting as ornamental stones are confined to few localities. Such crystals occur either in the cavities of mineral-veins and in granitic rocks, or as a lining in agate geodes. A huge geode, or "amethyst-grotto", from near Santa Cruz in southern Brazil was exhibited at the Düsseldorf, Germany Exhibition of 1902.

Alternate terminology

Several descriptive terms have been coined in the gem trade to describe the colors of amethyst. "Rose de France" is usually a pale pinkish lavender or lilac shade (usually the least-sought color). The most prized color is an intense violet with red flashes and is called "Siberian", although gems of this color may occur from several locations other than Siberia, notably Uruguay and Zambia. In more recent times, certain gems (usually of Bolivian origin) that have shown alternate bands of amethyst purple with citrine orange have been given the name ametrine.
Purple corundum, or sapphire of amethystine tint, is called Oriental amethyst, but this expression is often applied by jewelers to fine examples of the ordinary amethystine quartz, even when not derived from eastern sources. Professional gemological associations, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gemological Society (AGS), discourage the use of the term "Oriental amethyst" to describe any gem, as it may be misleading.
The Second Book of Pseudo-Albertus Magnus, Of the Vertues of Certaine Stones, refers to amethysts by the name Amarictus.

Geographic distribution

Amethyst is produced in abundance from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil where it occurs in large geodes within volcanic rocks. It is also found and mined in South Korea. The largest opencast amethyst vein in the world is in Maissau, Lower Austria. Many of the hollow agates of Brazil and Uruguay contain a crop of amethyst crystals in the interior. Much fine amethyst comes from Russia, especially from near Mursinka in the Ekaterinburg district, where it occurs in drusy cavities in granitic rocks. Many localities in India yield amethyst. One of the largest global amethyst producers is Zambia with an annual production of about 1,000 t.
Amethyst occurs at many localities in the United States, but these specimens are rarely fine enough for use in jewelry. Among these may be mentioned Amethyst Mountain, Texas; Yellowstone National Park; Delaware County, Pennsylvania; Haywood County, North Carolina; Deer Hill and Stow, Maine. It is found also in the Lake Superior region. Amethyst is relatively common in Ontario, and in various locations throughout Nova Scotia, but uncommon elsewhere in Canada.


Traditionally included in the cardinal, or most valuable, gemstones (along with diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald), amethyst has lost much of its value due to the discovery of extensive deposits in locations such as Brazil. The highest grade amethyst (called "Deep Russian") is exceptionally rare and therefore its value is dependent on the demand of collectors when one is found. It is however still orders of magnitude lower than the highest grade sapphires or rubies (Padparadscha sapphire or "pigeon's blood" ruby). Another variation involves the goddess Rhea presenting Dionysus with the amethyst stone to preserve the winedrinker's sanity.

See also


amethyst in Bulgarian: Аметист
amethyst in Catalan: Ametista
amethyst in Czech: Ametyst
amethyst in Danish: Ametyst
amethyst in German: Amethyst
amethyst in Estonian: Ametüst
amethyst in Modern Greek (1453-): Αμέθυστος
amethyst in Spanish: Amatista
amethyst in Esperanto: Ametisto
amethyst in Basque: Amatista
amethyst in French: Améthyste
amethyst in Irish: Aimitis
amethyst in Italian: Ametista
amethyst in Hebrew: אחלמה
amethyst in Georgian: ამეთვისტო
amethyst in Kazakh: Аметист
amethyst in Latvian: Ametists
amethyst in Lithuanian: Ametistas
amethyst in Hungarian: Ametiszt
amethyst in Dutch: Amethist
amethyst in Japanese: アメシスト
amethyst in Norwegian: Ametyst
amethyst in Polish: Ametyst
amethyst in Portuguese: Ametista
amethyst in Romanian: Ametist
amethyst in Russian: Аметист
amethyst in Simple English: Amethyst
amethyst in Slovak: Ametyst
amethyst in Slovenian: Ametist
amethyst in Serbian: Аметист
amethyst in Finnish: Ametisti
amethyst in Swedish: Ametist
amethyst in Thai: เขี้ยวหนุมาน
amethyst in Turkish: Ametist
amethyst in Ukrainian: Аметист
amethyst in Wolof: Ametist
amethyst in Samogitian: Ametėsts
amethyst in Chinese: 紫水晶
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