Ametrine is a color-zoned variety of quartz that, as its name suggests, is actually half amethyst and half citrine that are believed to “grow” side by side in nature. How the two actually form next to each other as they do is still a bit of a mystery, but the differences in color are believed to be the result of the presence of iron in different states of oxidation from heat.
|Ametrine is a fairly hardy stone with good hardness and toughness. It is safe to clean ametrine in ultrasonic cleaners or with simple soap, water, and a soft brush, but steam cleaners should be avoided.|
|Ametrine is a bi-color stone that displays both the golden yellows and oranges of citrine and the purples and violet-blues of amethyst. |
|When buying ametrine, good saturation of both yellow and purple, as well as an equal division of the two colors along a distinct line, is considered most valuable.|
History and Lore
In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the bittersweet story of ametrine begins. According to legend, the Spanish explorer Don Luis Felipe received the world's only ametrine mine as a dowry when he came to Bolivia to marry Princess Anahi of the Ayoreos tribe. Later, when Felipe was ready to return to Spain, Princess Anahi was sad to leave her homeland but determined to remain by her husband's side and vowed to follow him anywhere.
When the Ayoreos tribesmen learned of her plans to leave them, they plotted to sacrifice Princess Anahi. As the wounded princess lay dying in her beloved husband's arms, legend has it that she placed her final gift to him in his hand and took her last breath. When Felipe opened his hand, he found a perfectly divided bi-color ametrine, a symbol of his princess's divided heart--full of love for him as well as for her heritage.
Princess Anahi was buried at the base of the mountain where the ametrine mine is located, to be forever near her people. The mine then became known as the Anahi mine. Other stories maintain that Princess Anahi first warned her beloved of the tribe's plans to battle him for her affections, gifted him with the ametrine crystal she'd always worn around her neck, and then disappeared into the ametrine caves, never to be seen again. Ametrine remained relatively unknown to the rest of the world until the mine went into modern production in the late 1970s. Today, the Anahi mine in Bolivia remains the only mine in the world to produce good-quality ametrine.
Until recently, ametrine was almost always faceted in a rectangular shape to show the greatest contrast between its two colors. Now many shapes and sizes are available, and specialty cutters are creating unique shapes with splits as far as 90/10, bringing out reddish, orange, peach, and lavender hues.
The only active commercial ametrine mine in the world is the 6,000-acre Anahi mine in Bolivia, which mostly produces amethyst with an occasional serendipitous ametrine find. Lighter-colored ametrine has been discovered across the border in the Rio Grande do Sul area in Brazil and there's an amethyst-heavy source in India. Despite its beauty and rarity, ametrine is an affordable gem that only recently gained popularity when it was introduced to the market in the late 1970s.
The name ametrine is achieved by literally combining the ame- from amethyst and the -trine from citrine. Ametrine has also been known as "bolivianite" and "trystine" at some time during its history.