When it comes to purple gems, no other gemstone exceeds the popularity of amethyst. And here comes a need to learn how to tell if an amethyst stone is real or not easily.
Amethyst is one of the oldest gemstones known for being a talisman or protection against intoxication. It also possesses many other metaphysical properties that are oriented toward healing and releasing negative energies.
Unbeknownst to many, amethyst is a type of quartz that takes its color from chemical inclusions, including the mineral iron and manganese.
If you know the process of crystallization and mineralization, you would already know that the colors of gems are primarily dependent on the additional elements that get into the inner structure of the flowers as they are forming. Simple changes to the chemical composition of gemstones can result in speckles or bands of color forming throughout a given specimen.
The Colors of Amethyst
The primary color of amethyst is purple, so expect a lot of purple variations from very light purple to dark purple. There will also be times when the amethyst will exhibit bicolor expression, or having two types of color in it (usually in bands).
Amethyst subtypes cover the entire spectrum of purple, and the quality of the color depends on the processing and, sometimes, the source of the mineral.
We should also take into consideration that there are different varieties of amethyst. Amethyst quartz, for example, is a combination of milky quartz and the garden variety amethyst that we see in jewelry stores. With this variety, we will observe a whitish or transparent bottom part and a significant purple top portion in the specimen of amethyst quartz.
On the other hand, the ametrine variety is a winning combination of amethyst and the equally popular mineral citrine. With this combination, you will be able to observe additional bandings of either orange or yellow. The division between the minerals is often pronounced and sharp, so it’s easy to spot if you have ametrine on your hands.
The cactus quartz can be a combination of two to three varieties of minerals: citrine, quartz, and purple quartz. The cactus quartz has been observed to be more of an outgrowth of larger blocks of amethyst. This species of amethyst is commonly mined in the region of South Africa.
Canadian amethyst is unique because instead of having citrine or quartz, it has an inclusion or pairing with red hematite. The hematite is usually located within, just below the surface of the amethyst. So it peeks out to you when you look at it. Lavender Amethyst is the proper name of amethyst that has a paler and lighter version of purple. And finally, we have the ultra-special Vera Cruz amethysts that are mined in Mexico. What’s unique about these amethysts is they produce a subtle prismatic effect that scintillates light as no other amethyst does.
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How to tell if Amethyst is real or fake?
Identifying Real Amethyst vs. Fake Amethyst
Determining if the jewelry is fake or not is essential if you are serious about investing in gems like amethyst. You can do several tests to check the authenticity or genuineness of the gemstone you are holding.
First test – hardness of the mineral
Amethyst registers a solid seven on the Mohs scale of hardness; therefore, it has to be able to scratch anything lower than 7. To put things into perspective, an ordinary nail registers a two on the Mohs hardness scale, while a kitchen knife is usually a 6.5. An amethyst will not be able to scratch a mineral with a hardness of 8 and above, but everything else, including metals, should be easy to scratch.
The second test – visual test
It involves looking for the common signs of imperfection in minerals. Except for garnet, which has double the refractive index of diamond and has superb clarity even without irradiation or heat processing, the gem you are holding should show small imperfections such as changes in color zoning, speckles, dots, and even tiny cracks within the crystalline structure. No piece of the mineral is 100% perfect, so if the specimen you are holding appears too excellent, then it’s possible that it was not naturally formed, and therefore, it might not be the real thing.
The third test – checking for injected dyes
Sometimes, jewelers take minerals that resemble amethyst and seal the cracks with stain to hide the glaring signs that they are selling fakes. Cracks that have small quantities of pigments (these should be easy to spot with your eyes) are a warning sign that the stone may have been modified unscrupulously to trick untrained eyes.
The fourth test – checking the gem for small bubbles within
Since minerals are formed with intense heat and pressure, some crystals exhibit bubbling within their crystalline structures. Amethyst, in particular, does not have these inclusions. Since amethyst is a type of quartz, the most common compositions that you should be able to see are thread-like ones and not internal bubbling. This is another huge red flag when it comes to authenticity because the gem you are holding has to show the quartz properties to even be quartz in the first place.
The fifth test – examining how the real gem sits on a flat surface
Take the flower and lay it on a table covered with a cloth. Does the gem sit almost entirely on the uneven surface of the table cloth? It is highly unlikely that you are looking at genuine amethyst. You may be looking at something that resembles an amethyst or a simulant of some sort. But it is not an amethyst.
Bonus test (the fastest way for identification)
it involves just holding the gem and checking its temperature. Genuine amethyst can retain a low heat even when exposed to natural sunlight for some time. Ambient temperature has little or no effect on it – unlike glass and plastic. If the amethyst feels warm on your hand, you are probably looking at a fake.