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Dorothee holding Amethyst


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February is Amethyst month. One of the world’s most popular coloured gemstones, this purple favourite has been used in jewellery for thousands of years.

Geological origins

As a type of quartz (technically silicon dioxide), amethyst gets its purple to violet-purple colour from trace elements of iron. Amethysts form in long crystals with hexagonal pyramid shape inside volcanic rock; they are often found in geodes, some so large a human can fit inside.

Abundant worldwide, it is quite affordable and available in very large sizes. These gems are usually eye clean, and most are therefore faceted. The raw crystals are also popular for their energetic properties.

Amethyst’s Spectrum of Hues

The tips of large amethyst crystals carry the strongest colour saturation. These gems come in varied quality, with a strong reddish purple hue being considered the finest. A professional would also look for no visible colour zoning. There are usually few inclusions in amethyst.

While strongly saturated gems of medium dark to dark reddish purple or purple are preferred, one has to be careful that the dark tones don’t reduce brilliance. As with sapphires, if its tone is too dark, an amethyst might look black under dim lighting conditions.

Where are amethysts sourced?

As with diamonds today, Russia was once a main source of amethyst. However, new discoveries in Brazil near the turn of the 20th century made amethyst plentiful. Rarity and prices dropped. Brazil is still where most amethyst comes from today, although generally in lighter colours.

Africa is another good source, and renowned for its higher quality, more saturated stones, although they often have more inclusions than Brazilian amethysts.

The most prized stones come from Zambia; they are royal purple with reddish overtones.

Did you know we have amethysts in Nova Scotia?

Of course for most amethysts, origin is not traced, and thus these facts are largely a moot point. We do know one source, though: Nova Scotia!

Amethyst can be found at Cape Split, Cape Blomidon and the area around Amethyst Cove (duh), found between the two Capes. However, don’t go rushing out to find some – access to the cove is by boat or a steep path with ropes. Some reading on the history  and the gemsou this home-made video if you want to go down this path…. so to speak.

Where else can you find amethysts?

Other sources of amethyst are Uruguay, Argentina Arizona, Canada (Thunder Bay), India, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.

Amethysts are cut mainly in Thailand, China, India, with exclusive artisanal cuts famously crafted in Germany’s Idar-Oberstein.

Learn all about amethyst

When I first started doing LIVE broadcasts early on in the pandemic, I recoded this one on Amethysts. I was a bit nervous, look:

How to care for your Amethyst

If overexposed to light, amethyst can fade, and when heated, it turns from purple to tones of yellow, orange, or brown. So don’t leave your amethyst crystal in the window!

Did you know about February’s alternative birthstone?

An alternate birthstone for February is onyx, a variety of chalcedony – a form of microcrystalline quartz. Onyx has straight, nearly parallel opaque or translucent lines in different colours. It is often carved to create cameos or intaglios.

Dorothee holding Amethyst

So why don’t you see more amethyst rings on my website? Because like any other gemstone in the quartz family, amethyst is too soft to stand up to everyday wear in rings. Facets would be scuffed quickly, and the stone will look dull. I prefer to make jewellery that lasts!

But I can always find you a purple (or any colour) sapphire for a ring ;)

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Custom 18K Yellow Gold Ring with Diamond and Sapphire by Dorothée Rosen
People tell me they make it their Sunday morning ritual to read my letters. It's a personal look into the life of an artist, with intimate stories, care tips, and of course some exclusive jewellery previews as well.