oval Portuguese-cut amethyst - Georgiaoval Portuguese-cut amethyst - Georgia

Amethyst Gem, Price, and Jewelry Information

Amethyst is crystalline quartz in colors ranging from pale lilac to deep reddish purple. The February birthstone makes a fine, durable gemstone for all purposes, from jewelry to carved objects.

4 Minute Read

HomeGemstonesAmethyst Gem, Price, and Jewelry Information

Amethyst is crystalline quartz in colors ranging from pale lilac to deep reddish purple. With a relatively high hardness of 7, the February birthstone is a fine facetable jewelry gem for all purposes. Lower grades of material can be cabbed, carved, and made into a great variety of beads and other ornamental objects.

oval Portuguese-cut amethyst - Georgia
Oval Portuguese-cut amethyst, 18.95 cts, 20.7 x 15.5 mm, Jackson’s Crossroads, Wilkes Co., Georgia. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Start an IGS Membership today

for full access to our price guide (updated monthly).

Amethyst Value

Zambian amethyst with Siberian color
This 2.55-ct amethyst from Zambia possesses the coveted “Siberian” color. Round brilliant cut, 9 mm. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Value for amethysts depends almost entirely on color. Siberian mines once produced the world’s finest stones.  They featured a particularly rich purple color that glowed with red and blue flashes. Today the term “Siberian” no longer refers to origins. Instead, this is now a trade and grade term referring to colors similar to those of the amethysts mined in Siberia.

rose de France amethyst
Rose de France Amethyst, 11.3 ct, faceted with an Ultra Tec V5 and Fantasy Machine. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

Although Siberian reigns atop the value listing, light-colored amethyst has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. The lightest, pinkish violet shades are called “Rose de France,” a clever bit of marketing. The artistry of gemstone faceting can shine through these gems if given fancy and unusual cuts.

Since amethyst is readily available in large sizes, its value per carat climbs gradually, not exponentially. Since this stone is plentiful, there is little reason to pay top dollar for pieces with visible inclusions or inferior cutting.

For more information on amethyst value and quality factors, consult our amethyst buying guide.

Faceted Amethyst gems - Zambia and Brazil
Amethysts. Brazil (6.22, 9.18), Zambia (8.52) // Brazil (4.40, 3.61, 6.41, 6.38). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

What do Amethysts Represent?

People have prized amethysts for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians carved these durable gemstones into the shapes of animals, perhaps as protective amulets. The Ancient Greeks created amethyst carvings and jewelry pieces as well as one of the most enduring bits of amethyst folklore — its supposed power to prevent drunkenness. To learn more about the myths and legends associated with this gem, consult our symbolism article.

amethyst monkey figurine, Egypt
The drill hole and signs of wear on this carved amethyst figure of a female monkey holding its baby suggests this was worn as an amulet. Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, 1981-1802 BCE, 3.5 cm. Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public Domain.

Does Amethyst Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

As a variety of quartz, amethysts have the hardness (7) and wearability to be used in any type of jewelry setting, including rings.

amethyst ring with floral motif
Flower ring with 6 mm amethyst center stone and 2.5 mm accent amethysts. Photo by CustomMade. Used with permission.

Transparent, eye-clean amethysts suitable for faceting occur abundantly, and gem cutters can facet them with almost any design suitable to their size and color. For example, Barion cuts work well for large, lightly colored stones, while shallow designs and fantasy cuts work well for darker gems. Skilled faceters can also experiment with custom designs.

custom octagon-cut amethyst - Arizona
Custom octagon-cut amethyst, medium-dark reddish purple, 19.35 cts, 16.4 mm, Four Peaks Mine, Maricopa Co., Arizona. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Amethysts can serve as beautiful centerpieces as well as accent or side stones in jewelry.

pearl and amethyst engagement ring
Gold and pearl engagement ring with amethysts. Photo by Ryan Hyde. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

Lapidaries can also use amethysts for carvings, beads, and almost any type of decorative object.

18th-century table, gilded wood and gemstones - Italy
This 18th-century gilded wood table features an amethyst top as well as other gemstones. From the collection of the Palazzo Bonacossi. Photo by Sailko. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Distinguishing Amethysts from Similar Gemstones

Amethysts may appear similar to other popular transparent gemstones such as sapphires, spinels, and rhodolite garnets. However, since these gems occur rarely in purple colors, you're more likely to encounter amethysts misidentified as these rarer and more expensive stones. Nevertheless, these gems have notable differences in both optical and physical properties. Sapphires, spinels, and rhodolites all have higher refractive indices (RI), and spinels and rhodolites are also isometric. They also all have greater specific gravity values.

How Does Amethyst Get Its Color?

Natural amethyst receives its color from the presence of iron and other trace elements as well as natural irradiation. Amethysts may show color zoning, both uneven (unintentional) color distribution as well as color bands (intentional).

hourglass amethyst - Morocco
The deep purple zones in this 9.81-ct amethyst from Boudi, Morocco produce an hourglass shape within the gem. Cushion cut, 15.3 x 13.3 mm. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

What's the Difference Between Amethyst and Ametrine?

Ametrine is a variety of quartz with two distinct color zones, purple and yellow. These layers result from stop-and-start growth during the formation of the crystal underground, a process known as twinning. Since purple quartz is amethyst and yellow quartz is citrine, this means such a gem consists of amethyst and citrine zones, hence the name.

Usually, faceters will cut ametrines into rectangular emerald-cut shapes to highlight the two colors. However, some gem cutters may opt for designs that combine the zones, creating interesting flashes of color.

ametrine - Bolivia
Natural Bolivian ametrine, 10.68 cts. Photo by Gemsphoto. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Are There Synthetic Amethysts?

Amethysts can be grown hydrothermally in labs, and manufacturers can also create them by bombarding specially prepared smoky quartz with gamma rays.

Since natural amethyst is so abundant and inexpensive, little incentive exists to purchase synthetics. However, synthetic rough material is sometimes sold as natural rough.

synthetic amethysts
Synthetic amethysts. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Amethyst Enhancements

A variety of treatments can change the color of amethysts. However, strictly speaking, only those gems with lilac to deep purple colors remain amethysts. All others simply become different colored varieties of quartz. For example, amethysts heated to yellow or red-orange colors are, by definition, citrines.

enhanced amethyst clusters - Brazil
Once gem treatments turn amethysts into any color besides purple, they cease being considered amethysts. These color-enhanced amethyst clusters from Brazil have become other varieties of colored quartz. Photo by Jarno. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Heat treatments can lighten amethyst, turning it green, blue, or yellow-orange. This undetectable treatment has excellent stability. When heated to 400-500º C, amethysts may turn brown, red, and sometimes a green color. These green quartz gems are known as prasiolite.

Irradiation plus heating may also produce brown, orange, and yellow hues.

Where are Amethysts Found?

Today's major sources are Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Zambia. Brazil can produce stones of large size but generally moderate color. They often show uneven color, despite the best efforts of cutters to minimize it. Many gem enthusiasts prefer the usually smaller but more richly colored stones from Zambia as well as, more recently, Uruguay.

amethysts on matrix - Uruguay
Deep purple amethysts on matrix, 14.2 x 9.8 x 8.4 cm, Artigas, Artigas Department, Uruguay. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Four Peaks, Arizona produces top-quality facetable amethyst.

amethysts - Four Peaks, Arizona
These three amethysts from Four Peaks, Arizona have a blue component to their striking, deep purple color. 7.0-ctw, 10 x 8mm. © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

Other notable gem-quality sources include the following:

  • Australia; India; Madagascar; Mexico; Morocco; Namibia; Nigeria; Russia; South Korea.
  • United States: Georgia; North Carolina.
amethyst slice - India
This color-zoned slice of amethyst comes from an unusual stalactitic growth. 8.2 x 7.5 x 0.3 cm. Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

Most quartz can grow quite large and be cut into gems weighing thousands of carats. However, there are few clean examples of amethysts of 100 or more carats.

amethysts in an owl motif pendant
Amethysts of all sizes can make beautiful jewelry, like this owl motif pendant. Photo by CustomMade. Used with permission.

Although transparent amethyst occurs commonly, this rarely happens in very large masses. The Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC) possesses some exceptional transparent amethysts, such as a 1,362-ct Brazilian stone and a 202.5-ct stone from North Carolina.

amethysts - pebbles
Amethyst pebbles. Photo by Mauro Cateb. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Amethyst Trade Names

  • Siberian amethyst: dark purple color with flashes of red and/or blue
  • Golden amethyst: ametrine
amethyst brooch
Brooch, gold and amethysts. Paris, France, ca. 1830, 5.1 x 6.7 cm. The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public Domain.

Amethyst Misnomers

You might encounter amethysts heated to a brownish yellow color sold as "Madeira topaz." Stones with lighter shades are sometimes sold as "Palmyra topaz," while amethysts heated to a reddish color sometimes receive the name "Spanish topaz."

Other gem species sometimes receive names connecting them to amethyst. For example, violet sapphire is sometimes referred to as "oriental amethyst" and kunzite as "lithia amethyst."

All these names are erroneous and misleading. Avoid using them and be alert if vendors use these monikers without explaining the gem's true identity. As quartz, amethysts belong to a species distinct from topaz, sapphire, and kunzite.

Consult our list of gemstones with false or misleading names for more examples of this practice.

How to Care for Amethyst Jewelry

Although quartz gems are very durable, amethysts are still sensitive to extreme heat. Furthermore, inclusions can make these gems susceptible to shattering in ultrasonic cleaners. Avoid mechanical cleaning systems and stick to a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water, instead.

See our gemstone care guide for recommended cleaning methods.

Amethyst pendant. Photo by Amelia Isa. Licensed under CC By-ND 2.0.

Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com

Donald Clark, CSM IMG

The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”

Barbara Smigel, PhD. GG

Barbara Smigel is a GIA certified gemologist, facetor, jewelry designer, gem dealer, gemology instructor and creator of the well-regarded educational websites acstones.com and bwsmigel.info.

International Gem Society

Never Stop Learning

When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.

Become a Member

Get Gemology Insights

Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!