Everything You Need to Know About Amethyst: Grading, Colours, Clarity, Quality and Size

The semi-precious gemstone that we commonly refer to as amethyst is actually a variation of quartz which contains iron that has been naturally irradiated; thus resulting in a characteristic violet colour. Due to the fact that these stones can be quite striking in their appearance, amethyst jewelry has been popular for thousands of years. Let us take a brief look at some the ways that gemologists will interpret the value of this amazing stone.

In general, the finest examples of a valuable amethyst will exhibit a deep-purple with a slightly reddish tint. Darker levels of purple are considered to be the most desirable and valuable colour, as long as the stone does not become less transparent as a result. Brown inclusions and tints can detract from a stone's value. Also, stones that are highly valued will exhibit an even distribution of colour throughout. Some of the finest amethyst jewelry can represent truly breathtaking examples of this feature.

As with many gemstones, clarity is an important feature in regards to amethyst jewelry. Normally, the amethyst that is sold on the jewelry market is clear to the eye; that is, it contains no visible inclusions or impurities. It is an interesting fact that amethyst from different parts of the world will exhibit more inclusions than other parts. For example, African amethyst is traditionally known to be slightly less pure than the amethyst mined in South America (and yet darker in colour). A stone with an appreciable amount of inclusions will usually be fashioned into bead or embedded into a pendant. Generally, only the cleanest material will be cut into a faceted stone.

It should be rather obvious that size is an important metric to consider in any piece of amethyst jewelry. Thankfully (and unlike many other gemstones), amethyst can be used in rather large pieces. This is due to the fact that as its carat weight increases, its price will not rise as substantially as would a diamond or other such precious or semi-precious stones. Due to the fact that amethyst can often be seen as a large centrepiece around which other stones are set, it is not uncommon to encounter rather large, clean and deep purple valuable stones in a variety of cuts.

Grades are primarily based off of the richness of colour the stone will exhibit. Stones considered to be "AAA" are of the deepest reddish-purple. "B"-rated stones are medium in colour and "C" quality are of the lightest hue. Inclusions are taken into account, but they do not weigh as heavily upon the value as they would in other stones. Obviously, the highest-graded stones are those which will be used to produce amethyst jewelry.

Distribution and Amethyst Mines
One of the qualities that allow amethyst to be rather affordable is that is can be found in various regions around the world. While it is encountered in North America, Africa and small portions of Europe such as Austria, the majority of these stones are found in South America; particularly in Brazil and Uruguay. In addition, a handful of the finest Amethyst in the world is located in interior Russia in the region surrounding the city of Ekaterinburg.