Amethyst, Citrine and Ametrine - The Quartz Family

Amethyst: Shades of Purple

Amethyst, transparent purple quartz, is the most important quartz variety used in jewelry, and it is found in small quantities all over the world. In ancient times, Amethyst was rare and commanded high prices, but productive discoveries in the new world greatly lowered prices centuries ago. It comes in a full range of pale lilac to nearly black purple shades. The presence of minute quantities of chemical impurities, mostly iron and aluminum turns ordinary clear quartz into purple amethyst. Ideally, it is a deep medium purple with rose-colored flashes that give amethyst its beauty and fire. Because of its abundance, it is readily available in all sizes and shapes. It is durable and can be worn every day though as with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows. The highest grade will flash red and pink throughout the gem.

The term "Siberian" amethyst refers to a very high grade of amethyst although there is no longer any significant commercial production from Siberia. Most of the high-grade amethyst mined today is from southern Brazil, Uruguay and in Zambia. The pale colors are sometimes called "Rose de France" and can often be seen set in Victorian period jewelry. Synthetic amethyst which is often passed off as natural is made in Japan and Russia. A uniform and intense, deep color commands the highest price. Any color zoning or inclusions diminish the price. Generally, amethyst from South America tends to be available in larger sizes than African amethyst but amethyst from Africa has the reputation for having better, more saturated, color in small sizes. Very dark amethyst, mostly in small sizes, is also mined in Australia. Amethyst is available in a wide range of calibrated sizes and shapes, including many fancy shapes. Large fine stones may be sold in free sizes but generally amethyst is cut in standardized dimensions.

Amethyst is the recognized birthstone for February and the accepted anniversary gemstone for the sixth year of marriage. Purple has long been considered a royal color so it is not surprising that amethyst has been so much in demand during history. Fine amethysts are featured in the British Crown Jewels and were also a favorite of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty. Because amethyst was thought to encourage celibacy and symbolize piety, amethyst was very important in the ornamentation of Catholic and other churches in the Middle Ages. It was, in particular, considered to be the stone of bishops and they still often wear amethyst rings.



Citrine is a variety of quartz and its colors range from pale yellow to orange and "Madeira" red. The most popular fashion colors are the vivid yellows and oranges. It is often mistaken for yellow or golden topaz.

Citrine is also fairly plentiful. Beautiful gems in large sizes are available for reasonable prices. Citrine is a popular gemstone and stands up well to daily wear. Its earthy tones complement many wardrobes. Citrine also looks good when combined with amethyst, blue topaz or pink tourmaline in jewelry. Citrine's name is derived from "citron," a lemon-like fruit. To clean, immerse in a jewelry cleaner or in lukewarm soapy water and use a small bristle brush. Care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows. Although the darker, orange colors of citrine have generally been the most valued colors, in modern times, many people prefer the bright lemony shades, which mix better with pastel colors. Citrine is generally more inexpensive than amethyst and is also available in a wide range of calibrated sizes and shapes, including very large sizes. Sunny and affordable, citrine can brighten almost any jewelry style, blending especially well with the yellow gleam of polished gold.

Although some citrine occurs naturally, when mined, most citrines were either amethysts or other quartz family members. Long ago, it was discovered that a gentile heating of these gemstones produced various permanent colors from pale yellows to "Madeira" red. Most of the amethyst which is heated to form citrine is mined in Brazil. Supply of citrine is good from the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, particularly from the Sierra mine, which is producing 300 kilos a month of hammered goods. The Ira’ mine produces an additional 100 kilos a month of hammered goods.

Citrine is one of the accepted birthstones for November, as well as the suggested anniversary gemstone for the 13th year of marriage. Sometimes you will hear citrine referred to as topaz quartz, citrine topaz - which is incorrect. This name was used in the past in reference to the color, which is sometimes similar to the color of topaz. Since topaz is a separate mineral, this type of name can be confusing and should not be used. However, citrine is considered an alternative to topaz as the birthstone for November.


While both Amethyst and Citrine are fairly well known, the gem Ametrine combines both the purple of amethyst and the sunny gold of citrine. In this gem, amethyst and citrine colors are found in the same crystal of quartz. When properly cut, the gem will show both both yellow and purple, and you basically  have both gem colors for the price of one!

Ametrine is especially inexpensive when you consider that nearly all the world’s production comes from only one mine in the world – it is actually fairly rare. The Anahi Mine in Bolivia is the only major world producer of ametrine. The mine first became famous in the seventeenth century when a Spanish conquistador received it as a dowry when he married a princess from the Ayoreos tribe named Anahi. Ametrine was introduced to Europe through the conquistador's gifts to the Spanish queen, but for centuries remained very rare. In the 1980s, increased production began, and the gem markets began to see larger quantities of this rare gem. A little known deposit in Washoe County, Nevada, north of Reno is one of the few other sources of this rare material.

Ametrine is most typically faceted in a rectangular shape with a 50/50 pairing of amethyst and citrine. Sometimes a checkerboard pattern of facets is commonly added to the top to increase light reflection. Ametrine can also be cut to blend the two colors so that the resulting stone is a mix of yellow, purple, and peach tones throughout the stone. Ametrine is also popular among artistic cutters and carvers who play with the colors, creating landscapes in the stone.

Like other quartz gems, Ametrine is a very durable gemstone suited for a variety of jewelry uses. Most sizes and shapes are available but the color contrast is most pronounced in sizes over seven carats.

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