Amethyst: February's Birthstone
Modified: April 2011
by Jerry Sisk, GG; Co-Founder, Jewelry Television®
If you are fortunate enough to have amethyst as your February birthstone, then you will be wearing a gemstone deeply steeped in history and lore. Ancient cultures such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans believed amethyst had protective and curative powers and it was closely associated with spirituality, faith, and wisdom. Associated with royalty and treasured for thousands of years, amethyst was once reserved for the powerful and wealthy. Fortunately, times have changed, and the beauty and mystery of amethyst can now be affordably yours. Why not treat yourself like royalty and enjoy the beauty and elegance of amethyst?
Offering a wide variety of shades, from reddish- to violet-purple, this gemstone is truly versatile. And, if you prefer soft, subdued colors, then you will truly enjoy the pastel lavenders of amethyst.
Do you enjoy deeper richer colors? Then you should consider some of the intense purple amethyst from Africa or South America. Its richness can be intoxicating to the eye.
Amethyst often crystallizes in cavities within volcanic rocks forming geodes. These crystals grow inward and are often sliced or cut to form beautiful displays that are fun to collect and display.
Once reserved solely for royalty, amethyst can now be yours at Jewelry Television®. Join us as we celebrate February's birthstone and one of nature's most beautiful gifts to man.
Today, when one is searching for the premier source of fine quality amethyst, look no further than the country of Uruguay. The second smallest South American country, Uruguay is snuggled between the much larger countries of Argentina and Brazil in the southern part of the continent. While Brazil may be the more prolific producer of amethyst, it is Uruguay that is the source of some of the finest amethyst gems known today.
Don't be surprised to see fiery flashes of red in these stones, which only adds to their beauty and desirability. Unlike amethysts from so many other parts of the world, no heat is needed to bring out the intensely rich violet hues of this gem. Uruguayan amethysts typically display a rich velvety look that reminds George Williams, one of JTV's Senior Gemstone Buyers, of the difference between Kashmir and Ceylon sapphire. They have an incredibly rich luster that glows like coal rather than shining like fire; and purple hues that are unmatched when compared to the brighter crystals (with more diluted colors) that make up most of the production worldwide.
Mined in the northern region of Uruguay's Artigas Department, the amethyst rough is sent to Brazil, one of the finest cutting centers in the world. The technique used for cutting Uruguayan amethyst is very different than the technique used for cutting amethyst from other locations. These stones are easily distinguishable from other amethysts and are well known for the frequency of their carvable peaks (beaks). When cutting the crystals, the table facet is placed in the center of the stone, which causes a huge amount of rough loss during cutting. Uruguayan amethyst is highly desired in many of the world-wide markets, including Europe, Japan, China, Australia and the U.S.
JTV's worldwide team strives to keep our customers updated about the latest market information on the gemstones we sell. Concerning present-day availability of Uruguayan amethyst, this team has discovered that the major production coming from the mine is small in size. Larger, top color rough that is suitable for cutting gems in sizes 10x8mm and up can only be found in handfuls. Production of the supreme color material is currently about 2-3kg per month, and there is much competition from the worldwide markets for this material. Some gems will have zoning, but every stone is cut to "face up" perfectly with visible zoning when mounted in jewelry. The only other amethyst that comes close Uruguayan amethyst in color is the African material, but it is more included in the larger sizes. The only reason Uruguayan amethyst has been available in the past two years is because the Asian market hasnt been purchasing all of the natural geodes from which it was cut. But once again, the demand is beginning to increase.