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Amethyst: Facts and Lore

Updated on May 3, 2020
Jaime Fitzgerald profile image

Jaime is a geology enthusiast who has studied earth science at Wayne State University

Amethyst is a variety of quartz with rich purple colors, ranging from delicate orchid purples to deep entrancing violet hues. Amethyst’s beautiful visual properties have made it one of the most sought-after crystals in geologic and mystical circles alike.

Amethyst's impressive colors have evoked awe and reverence for centuries
Amethyst's impressive colors have evoked awe and reverence for centuries | Source

What is Amethyst?

Amethyst, a variety of quartz, is a silicate. Silicates are the most common class of minerals on Earth, making up 95% of our planet’s crust. The shocking violet color of amethyst is generated in a process using radiation and the element iron. When iron is trapped in a forming quartz crystal, it is then irradiated by radioactive materials in the host rock, which changes the color from red to purple. Just like Spiderman changed from a regular guy to a superhero from a radioactive spider, normal clear quartz can turn to a beautiful purple shade from being irradiated.

Amethyst can be cut into beautiful faceted shapes for use in jewelry
Amethyst can be cut into beautiful faceted shapes for use in jewelry | Source

Though amethyst can be found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks, it is most commonly found in igneous rock formations.

North America's Amethyst Mine

Today, there is only one active commercial amethyst mine in the United States, the Four Peaks Amethyst mine in Arizona. This mine produced "Siberian Red Amethyst", which is only found in one other location on Earth- Siberia! All the mining is done by hand using careful techniques to avoid damaging the valuable crystals. To see the inside of the mine and take a virtual tour, check out the video below!

Arizona Four Peaks Amethyst Mine Tour by Sami's * Sami's American Gem Collection

Ancient Lore of Amethyst

Amethyst has captivated mystics in many cultures for millennia. The name “amethyst” comes from the Greek word for “no longer drunk”, as the Greeks believed that amethyst crystals could help someone sober up from too much wine. The crystal was carved into drinking vessels and amulets to ward off intoxication.

An amethyst cup from the Louvre museum
An amethyst cup from the Louvre museum | Source

Modern Mystical Beliefs About Amethyst

Today, some people use amethyst for chakra healing, as they believe the stone has powerful spiritual properties. Amethyst is said, by these modern mystics, to help with addiction, clairvoyance, and stress relief. Amethyst beads, points, and geodes are popular meditation aides in some mystic circles.

Were you born in February? If so, amethyst is your birth stone!

© 2020 Jaime Fitzgerald


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