Of all the minerals on Earth, Quartz is the most common, but its high lustre and hardness makes it ideal for pieces of jewellery. The most well known gemstones from the quartz family are amethyst and citrine, both of which are a variety of crystalline quartz. Other popular forms of quartz include Rose Quartz and the polycrystalline varieties such as Chalcedony, Agate and Jasper
Amethyst: the purple gemstone
[left] Amethyst is one of my favourite semi-precious gemstones and the official birthstone for February. This beautiful gem ranges in colour from dark purple to lilac or mauve. The cause of colour is its chemistry, particularly impurities of iron and aluminium. It can be transparent, translucent or opaque depending on the quality and has a vitreous (glass-like) lustre. Often, higher quality stones will be given a mixed cut, whilst lower quality will be turned into cabochons and beads. Although it is a fairly hard stone – it is a 7 on the Mosh scale – it can be scratched, so it is important to take extra care when wearing an amethyst ring or bracelet. This gem also has particular inclusions that can help to prove that is natural. “Tiger-stripes” or “fingerprints” (liquid filled fissure within the gemstone) and colour zoning are two standard inclusions in amethyst.[/left]
The word ‘amethyst’ originates from the Greek “amethystos” which means “not intoxicated or drunk” as it was believed to protect its owner from inebriation. Now, I’m not saying that if you wear an amethyst you can drink as much as you want and still drive a car, absolutely not. I just think that the belief was that it helped you to intake alcohol better.
It is believed that apart from protecting its owner from drunkenness amethyst has all kind of powers. It promotes calm, balance and meditation. It has a gentle energy that encourages a peaceful attitude and helps with lucid dreaming. Also, it protects travellers. I’m not a great believer in it, but I found this fascinating, so I thought to give it a try.
Up until the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this coloured gemstone was included in the list of the most valuable stones together with ruby, sapphire, diamond and emerald, with the finest examples traditionally coming from Siberia. They were gorgeous stones, with a vibrant, deeply saturated purple colour, and this exceptional quality made them hugely popular during the mid-nineteenth century amongst royalty and members of the church, where they became a gemstone of great historical importance and an insignia of power. In fact, the British Crown Jewels have amethysts among their pieces and Catherine the Great was rumoured to be particularly enamoured of it. Nowadays, due to the discovery of a large deposit in Brazil, it has somewhat lost its value, but it nevertheless remains an extremely popular gemstone, and it is very hard not to spot this beauty in all sorts of jewellery.
- Taking care of your Amethyst:
[left]Although Amethyst is a fairly hard and stable gemstone, you need to follow a few simple rules to keep your jewellery looking fabulous. Certain types of amethyst will react to sunlight, so do not keep your jewellery directly next to a window where the sun’s rays may cause the colour to fade. Amethyst will also react to strong heat, so store your jewellery and gemstones well away from any direct heat sources which may result in discolouration. Don’t keep it next to other stones such as rubies, sapphires or diamonds, as these materials are harder and may scratch the softer quartz. When doing housework make sure you wear gloves or remove your jewellery, as strong chemicals can damage or otherwise affect your gemstone’s beauty. Clean your jewellery with a soft cloth and warm soapy water – make sure you rinse it afterwards to avoid leaving soapy deposits on your jewellery![/left]
[left]Citrine is a beautiful gemstone of a yellow to a red-orange colour. Another variety of crystalline quartz, it is slightly less abundant in nature, and is sometimes also produced by heating poor quality amethyst. The most beautiful colours are the saturated yellow to reddish-orange tones, and indeed the name “citrine” comes from the French, “citrin” meaning yellow. This beautiful yellow gemstone is the birthday gem for November.[/left]
Other crystalline Quartzes
Another variety of crystalline quartz that is quite popular in jewellery is rose quartz. This gemstone, coloured by titanium, it is always a light to medium pink. The most well-known deposit was discovered in Madagascar.
[left]Chrysoprase, a bright apple-green translucent chalcedony, from the quartz family, was a much-loved gemstone by Frederick the Great of Prussia, and it can be seen today decorating many buildings in Prague, including the Chapel of St Wenceslas.[/left]
- Other notes of interest
Quartz is also produced synthetically and used on large scale in the electronic industry. Quartz can be worn by men and women, and can be cut into any shape and size. Brilliant cuts are used to maximise the colours and beads and cabochons are used for poor quality material. A better cut and polish increases its value. It’s always better to buy coloured gemstones by size and not carat due to differences in density. For example, one carat of a diamond can look smaller than one carat of a coloured gemstone.
*all images are from pinterest.com