Amethyst is a variety of quartz which occurs in a transparent light to dark purple. It has long been treasured by kings and queens as well as high figures in religious sects because of its rich, royal color can be traced back to the Minoan period in Greece (c. 2500 B.C.) when it was found as polished cabochons (dome-shaped stones) set in gold. It is represented in many artistic eras since then.
Today the two main sources of amethyst are Brazil and Zambia. It is also found in Uruguay, Russia, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and our own state of Arizona. With the increasing scarcity of fine amethyst, a manmade duplicate has come onto the market. Amethyst is always desirable, but when fashion includes the rich palette of lilacs, lavenders and royal purples, its popularity soars.
Amethyst is fashioned in a number of different ways. It is faceted or polished into a cabochon for rings, pendants, earrings and cuff links. It may be carved into violet petals for a pendant or earrings or into a cluster of grapes for a brooch. Beads of amethyst are strung in various lengths, sometimes polished, sometimes not. They may be combined with gold beads, pearls, rock crystal or other colored stone beads. Amethysts look especially rich when set in gold and accented with diamonds.