Amethyst: Grading, History & Facts About The Royal February Birthstone
Amethyst: The Royal February Gemstone
Amethysts are gemstones of the quartz variety, ranking 7 on the Mohs scale. Although they are not as durable as diamonds or sapphires, their unique color has ranked amethyst among the most desirable and valuable gemstones. Purple has long been a color associated with royalty and it’s because of this that amethysts were once only available to the crown. However, their abundance in nature (and beautiful color) have made them, not only accessible, but also one of the most popular gemstones for fine jewelry. Many women whose favorite color is purple choose this stone as the centerpiece for their custom engagement ring.
Grading Amethyst Color
As with other gemstones, an amethyst will be graded on the purity of its signature hue: purple. Despite popular belief, amethysts with reddish-purple coloring will fetch a higher grade and price than pure purple. A fine stone will not have any visible color zoning (noticeable and drastic change of color in an area). Color zoning or any brown tint will decrease the grade of the stone drastically. Similarly, amethysts that have spots of weak color will also decrease in their price.
Grading Amethyst Clarity
Fortunately for February babies and those who favor purple, amethysts are usually eye clean. This means that there are no inclusions (flaws) that are visible to the naked eye. However, depending on the region where the stone is mined, there may be more flaws in one stone than in a stone from another part of the world. For example, a stone from Zambia is expected to have more flaws than a stone from Brazil. This is simply due to the conditions of the environment they are formed in.
Grading Amethyst Cut
One of the beautiful features of the February birthstone is that any cut will flatter an amethyst’s ability to reflect light. They can even be cut into freeform shapes, giving a professional cutter artistic freedom. This is another reason why many women opt for this gemstone as a diamond alternative in their custom engagement ring—it is truly customizable. Grading an amethyst’s cut therefore comes down to skill and precision of the shape.
Grading Amethyst Carat Weight
Unlike diamonds or emeralds, the price of amethysts does not increase dramatically with its size. This makes it a great choice for fine statement jewelry where a person can have a larger gemstone without the hefty price tag.
Fun Facts About February’s Birthstone
- The ancient Greeks believed that amethysts could prevent inebriation and would decorate cups with them.
- Medieval warriors wore them as a talisman to increase focus.
- Amethysts were once only allowed to be worn by royalty.
- Amethysts lost their elite gemstone status when large deposits were found in Brazil in the 19th century.
- There is a cavern in Maine, USA that contains more than 1 ton of amethyst.