Quartz, the second most common mineral on earth (the most common is feldspar), is something that most everyone has seen at one time or another. What most people don’t realize, however, is that they have seen much more of it than they realize. Quartz can be used to make beautiful jewelry and lovely decorations for the home. This article will introduce you to some examples of gemstones that you may not have realized are all forms of quartz.
The first is amethyst. Amethyst is the purplish violet form of quartz. Amethysts get their purple color from a combination of irradiation, iron impurities, and traces of other elements. It is the birthstone for the month of February (hint hint you February born jewelry lovers), and its name is derived from the Greek word for “not intoxicated”. In fact, the Greeks carved pitchers and glasses out of amethyst to prevent drunkenness.
While amethyst typically is mined for commercial purposes, some amethyst crystals are found inside geodes, which are crystal formations found inside other rocks. While the vast majority of geodes contain clear quartz crystals, some geodes have amethyst crystals inside.
Amethyst mines are found throughout the world, but most are found in Brazil, Siberia, Sri Lanka, Zambia, and Canada. Interestingly, the largest amethyst mine is not found in any of these countries, but in Austria! In North America, the largest mine is located in Ontario.
While nearly everyone is aware that amethyst is purple, there is another form of quartz that has picked up the name of “green amethyst”. That stone is prasiolite. Far less common than its purple cousin, prasiolite has been marketed for years as green amethyst. In order to stop mislabeling of this and other stones (Golden Beryl as yellow emerald is another example) international law has been instituted preventing the misrepresentation of gemstones. Only purple quartz can now be called “amethyst”.
The name prasiolite is derived from the Greek meaning “leek stone” which its color represents. Prasiolite is only found in Brazil, Poland, and Ontario.
Another popular quartz gemstone is citrine. Citrine is a yellow to orange colored form of quartz. Citrine found naturally is quite rare, yet plenty exists as gemstones. This is because most citrine is created by treating amethyst or smoky quartz with heat. Low temperature heating creates a more yellow tone, high temperature heating gives citrine a more orange-red color. Citrine is an alternative birthstone for November as it is nearly the same color as the traditional birthstone, topaz, but lower in price.
If you like both amethyst and citrine, you may be interested to know that there is a gemstone that is a combination of both! That stone is ametrine. As you can guess, ametrine gets its name as a consolidation of amethyst and citrine. There is only one place in the world where ametrine is found naturally, and that is Bolivia. The discovery of ametrine was made in the 1980’s. Most of the natural ametrine rough is cut so the final result is half purple and half golden, but the same results can be done by heat treatment.