Amethyst, the ancient stone of sobriety, peace of mind, and third eye visions. It has fascinated mankind for millenia with its uses ranging from drinking cups to amulets. Amethyst has a special place in the crystal community, its benefits extending from the physical to the metaphysical. This purple variety of quartz got its name from the Greek word amethystos, meaning “not drunken”. Often, the Romans would drink from cups and goblets made of amethyst as they believed the stone would prevent one from becoming intoxicated. In regards to the mental state, amethyst’s properties help to calm the mind and break addictions. It can open the third eye to promote intuition, insight, vivid dreams, and psychic abilities. This multidimensional stone can protect one’s energy and calm anxiety.
Zodiac: Virgo, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces
Planet: Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune
Chakra: third eye, crown, etheric
Colors: purple, violet, lilac
Because it is such a popular stone, it is often replicated so it’s important to know what you’re buying. Here’s how to identify amethyst.
One of the best and simplest ways to tell if amethyst is real is by looking at the color. A real amethyst will have strands and varieties of purple ranging from deep violet to white, to dark blues and lilac. If an “amethyst” is one solid color, it’s fake. Some amethyst stones will be as dark as wine or black while others are pale lavender with bits of white. It’s important to know that different varieties of amethyst will affect the color as well. For example, Ametrine is a cross between amethyst and citrine, in whose case there will be a sharp banding of color on the stone. Amethyst quartz also at times has a translucency at the bottom of the crystal. If you hold it up to the light, you’ll notice all the different shades and colors beneath the surface. This is a true amethyst.
If you have an amethyst crystal and suspect that something is off, it could be a crystal that was injected with purple dye to make it look real. Some jewelers or sellers try to imitate amethyst by sealing cracks in a different quartz crystal with dye. Take a close look at the stone to inspect whether the cracks have small quantities of pigment. Amethyst geodes and quartzes with a very intense color are most likely dyed.
Because gemstones and minerals are formed in intense environments of extreme pressure and heat, the clarity of a natural crystal is often compromised by bubbles beneath the surface as well as some discoloration. This holds true for many crystals, but amethyst is not one of them. Since amethyst is a quartz crystal, you’ll most likely find threads beneath the surface instead of bubbles. Actually, in most types of quartz crystals, bubbles and discoloration are quite rare. To check, hold your stone under a magnifying glass. If there are bubbles, then it isn’t quartz, and if it isn’t quartz, then it most certainly cannot be amethyst. Real, natural amethyst stones should be clear – not crystal-clear, but you should be able to see through it without any bubbles or discoloration.
VARIETY OF THE CUT
After you’ve examined the color and clarity of your stone, take some time to consider the cut. Of course, this doesn’t apply to naturally shaped and tumbled gems. Amethyst stones can come in a variety of different shapes because it is an easy stone to cut, so just because your crystal is in an “unnatural” shape doesn’t mean it’s fake. Hearts, circles, ovals, and squares are all common cuts for amethyst (as well as many other stones). When buying a cut amethyst, it will most likely be polished as well.
This method is a little more complicated than the others and takes a bit longer, but it’s a great way to find out if your amethyst is for sure the real thing. You’ll need a set of scales, some water, and a beaker. True, natural amethyst has a gravity of around 2.65 and this test is meant to measure that. Here’s how it’s done:
- Weigh the beaker alone and remove it from the scale. Take note of the weight.
- Weigh the amethyst stone and remove it from the scale. Take note.
- Add a little water to the beaker and take note of the measurements on the glass.
- Place the amethyst in the beaker.
- The water in the beaker will rise and you can record the new measurement.
- Subtract the previous measurement from this and that will be the amount of water displaced by the amethyst.
- Empty the beaker of the water and the amethyst, then fill the beaker back up to the same measurement as that which had been displaced.
- Weigh the beaker again with the amount of displaced water in it.
- Subtract the beaker’s original weight from the number you have and this will give you the exact weight of the displaced water alone.
- Divide the weight of the amethyst by that of the displaced water and it should give you a number close to 2.65 if the amethyst is real.
The hardness test is a great determining factor or authenticity for any stone, including amethyst. Each stone has its own number on the Mohs hardness scale. On this scale of 1-10, 1 is the softest and 10 is the hardest. Take for example, a diamond which is 10, a blade is 5, a fingernail is 2 and powder is 1. Amethyst sits at a 7, meaning it’s a relatively hard stone. Anything below 7 on the Mohs scale shouldn’t cause any damage to a real amethyst stone. Use your fingernail rather than a blade to scratch the surface. If it leaves a mark, then you’re dealing with something way softer than a real amethyst.
When buying an amethyst crystal, don’t hold back on asking questions about where it came from. This question can provide some clarity as to the authenticity of your amethyst crystal. Amethyst is found all over the world, but is usually imported from Brazil, South Africa, Namibia, and the USA (Arizona, Colorado, and North and South Carolina). If your amethyst isn’t from any of these places, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fake, but it can be a great indicator when compared with other test fails.
One more reason why amethyst is so popular is the fact that it is a relatively affordable crystal. However, the price itself can vary depending on the quality, weight, level of imperfection, and whether the stone is polished or not. A real amethyst can cost anywhere between $2 and $30 per carat. Expect to pay no less than $20 for amethyst from any reputable jeweler. If the stone is anything less than this (of course, unless it’s small) then it’s probably fake.
Oftentimes, sellers will mask a fake stone with a name that sounds exotic or special. If you see strange names like “Desert amethyst” or “Japanese amethyst”, you may think they are variations of amethyst but in fact, they do not exist and are most likely fake.
GRADES OF AMETHYST
As with any gemstone, amethyst is grouped into different grades. This is so that buyers can tell the quality and value of their gemstone. The highest grade of amethyst will be close to flawless while the lowest grade, the complete opposite and sometimes with inclusions. And then of course, these grades apply to real amethyst rather than synthetic amethyst.
- Natural AA is the biggest range of amethyst and applies to about 75% of gems available on the market. Even though it’s the lowest of the three grades, these amethyst stones are still quite a wonder. They contain moderate to heavy inclusions with their color being closer to light purple or lilac. These can be found at most small vendors.
- Natural AAA is one grade up, applying to about 20 – 30% of amethyst on the market. They tend to have slight inclusions and are a medium purple color. These are often found at independent and family jewelers.
- Natural AAAA is the very top of the grades, being the highest quality available, accounting for only 10% of amethyst on the market. They are as close to perfect as it gets, being extremely clear to the naked eye, dark purple, and beautifully cut. These are so flawless that you will struggle to see the imperfections, but when bought from a high end jeweler, make no mistake that it is real.