Affordable "Green Amethyst" Gemstones

Merle White Please welcome Merle White, the editor in chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, who tells us about a gem of a different color. It may be just what you’re looking for in spring jewelry designs.
––LR, editor
Beading Daily

Isn't amethyst supposed to be purple?
I'm glad you asked, because it's a good story. Amethyst is the name we use for the purple variety of quartz. Pure quartz is colorless, but nature often throws in a little of this or that (a little iron or heat, for example), and the result is often color instead of no color, or a color other than the one a stone started out with. 

How the heck can amethyst be green?  
So it is with the case of "green amethyst," which was produced quite by accident at an old amethyst mine in Brazil sometime around the early 1950s. One day a miner stacked a bunch of rocks lying around near the mine into a makeshift firepit, lit a fire, and warmed his lunch over it.  The rocks were actually bits of poor-quality amethyst that wasn't attractive enough to sell, but lo and behold, when the miner had finished his lunch, he discovered that the lousy purple rocks he'd heated up were now a delicate and attractive green!

Purple Prasiolite Nature does some strange things. 
This quartz gem from Zambia is half amethyst (purple) and half green (prasiolite), and the colors most likely occurred naturally. Stone and photo: Si & Ann Frazier.

A green gem by any other name
I wouldn't call something that's no longer purple "amethyst" myself, but  you can understand why it's often called "green amethyst." Some people actually call it "greened amethyst," which makes a little more sense to me, and some call it "prasiolite," from the Portuguese word the Brazilians use.

Green Quartz A gem for all purposes
Like all quartz gems, prasiolite stands up well to the wear and tear of jewelry use, including rings. Rings tend to get banged around, so if a stone is durable enough for a ring, it's more than durable enough for anything else. Faceted 12mm green amethyst, courtesy Stuller Inc.; photo by Jim Lawson.

Affordable abundance
Today, there is plenty of "greened amethyst" or "prasiolite" on the market, now produced on purpose several ways, and it makes a great stone for spring. You can buy small or large sparkling faceted gems or beads for as little as $5 a carat.

Green Quartz Group Romancing the stone
Green amethyst is pretty, durable, inexpensive, and has an amusing history––a great way to "romance the stone" if you sell handmade jewelry with stones. In the March 2010 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, you can learn a lot more about this versatile gem. Find out all you need to know to buy prasiolite, learn more of its history and the dozen other names it goes by, see how to make 3-stone earrings, wire wrap it up with other stones, and watch step by step as cover artist Nanz Aalund sets a light green quartz in a rivet capture. Stones courtesy Stuller Inc.; photo: Jim Lawson
I don't know what winter's been like where you are, but here in the northeast it's been cold, white, or gray. Gems in sparkling spring green? I say bring it on!
Helen Driggs Earrings

Yeah, we have that!
The Smokin' Stones column appears in every issue, with what you need to know to source, buy and design with cool gems, and maybe a bit of folklore, too. Green not your thing? Subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and you won't miss your favorite colors. 

Learn to make these earrings with green amethyst (top, faceted gems), ruby-in-zoisite (center, green/purplish red stones), and sugilite (purple stones at bottom) in the March issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Designed by Managing Editor Helen Driggs. Photo: Jim Lawson

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