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The origin of green amethyst gemstone

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Very often in my conversation with the readers of my green amethyst prasiolite blog I have been asked the following question: Where does green amethyst come from? Honestly, when I first found out about the existence of this beautiful gemstone, I was puzzled too. Although working with gems, minerals, and semi precious stones for a long time, I discovered this wondrous crystal relatively late.

More about the name, color and cost of green amethyst you can find in my other article. Otherwise, this gemstone is structurally very similar to the ordinary quartz SiO2 crystals, with the green color originating most likely from certain types impurities or defect centers within the bulk structure of silica. Silica is basis of a huge number of mineral varieties of quartz, including also citrine (yellow to orange color), ordinary amethyst (violet to purple color), ametrine (combining both amethyst and citrine with zones of both purple and yellow color), smoky quartz (with all possible shades of brown), rose quartz (delicate rose color) and to a number of more complicated minerals.

When I purchased my first raw natural prasiolite samples, I was told they came from Brazil. My gemstones supplier is a reliable source of minerals, so I had no reason to question either the country of origin or the fact that the stones had been earth mined.

I have heard from other sources that the Brazilian green amethyst, although rare, can indeed be genuine, that is, not lab enhanced or synthetically produced green quartz. There are reports of earth mined prasiolite stones also originating from Malawi and Namibia, and about three decades ago the magazine of the Gemological Institute of America published an article about natural formations of green quartz occurring near to the California-Nevada border. However so far, I have not encountered any prasiolite stones originating from the USA.

The color enhanced green amethyst --- so called greened amethyst --- is more frequent on the jewelry markets today. The process of color alteration is realized through heating of purple amethyst. This amethyst is required to originate from some carefully chosen regions of the world (otherwise the stones would turn yellow and citrine will be produced, instead of the green variation).

Chances are that your prasiolite jewelry might incorporate such artificial gems instead of genuine natural stones. There is also a tradition of production of green quartz in laboratory. Since quartz is routinely grown in artificial conditions, green quartz is also "easily" produced. The optical properties of such stones are somewhat different from the natural stones, but not so easily discernible by ordinary inspection. Due to the delicacies of the processes of production and color enhancement, one should take special care of green amethyst jewelry, especially with regards to excessive heat exposure. To insure that the stone is genuine, however, is more difficult, and therefore the prasiolite jewelry should be purchased from respected jewelry dealers only.


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