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Why is amethyst so cheap?

Chicago Girl

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I've been browsing the PS recommended precision gem cutters, and I've noticed that amethyst seems considerably cheaper than some of the other types of colored stones. Why is this?
 

Pandora II

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It's the purple form of quartz and therefore available in large quantities. Quartz makes up around 12% of the earth's crust. Premium colour can be quite expensive.

Until the 18th Century, amethyst was considered a 'cardinal' gemstone along with diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald due to its rarity. The value was once the same as that of a white diamond of the same weight - at the time, most amethysts came from Indian, Sri Lanka and the Urals in Russia.

In the late 18th Century significant deposits were found in Brazil and the bottom dropped out of the market. The conditions needed for amethyst to form are uncomplicated (compared with emerald for example which theoretically shouldn't exist), they are relatively stable when subjected to wide pressure and heat ranges and are resistant to weathering.

Stones such as rubies, sapphires, emeralds etc are very rare and extremely rare in fine qualities. Tsavorite garnets are 200 times rarer than emeralds and are expensive - almandine garnets pretty much grow like weeds and are very cheap in comparision.

Basically it comes down the the fundamentals of supply and demand...

Quartz has about a gazillion different forms that can be used as gemstones, it can also be treated easily - 99.9% of citrine on the market is produced by heating the less desirable shades of amethyst. It can also be treated to produce praisolite (erroneously marketed as 'Green Amethyst')

ETA: Although the premium colour for amethyst is called 'Deep Siberian', the finest amethysts have tended to be Sri Lankan, Brazilian and more recently Zambian rather than Russian.
 

smitcompton

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Hi.

For myself, I don't care how cheap it is. I think it is a beautiful stone. I have a 3 carat zambian ammy, which shoots off blue and red flashes. There are so many shades of purple to choose from, i hope if you like the color, you get one. I think it is under appreciated.

Better for us if it is cheap.

Annette
 

JewelFreak

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Ditto +. Imo there isn't anything much prettier than a top-quality amethyst, plentiful or not. Rarity by itself doesn't confer beauty.

--- Laurie
 

Michael_E

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Good natural amethyst is not plentiful and is only low in value because about 80%+ of the amethyst floating around is synthetic. Testing to tell the difference between synthetic amethyst and natural is rather expensive, usually more so than the stone being tested, so most just skip it. With so much hard to test synthetic material floating around and without a broad base of demand for natural material there is nothing to push the price up.

Speaking of cheap, have you seen the cost of large synthetic colorless diamonds here: http://gemesis.com/diamonds/single?base_color=421 Yep, colorless...scary. :shock:
 

innerkitten

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smitcompton|1333908511|3166248 said:
Hi.

For myself, I don't care how cheap it is. I think it is a beautiful stone. I have a 3 carat zambian ammy, which shoots off blue and red flashes. There are so many shades of purple to choose from, i hope if you like the color, you get one. I think it is under appreciated.

Better for us if it is cheap.

Annette

Same here. I've always loved the color purple.
 

Kim Bruun

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JewelFreak|1333909400|3166255 said:
Rarity by itself doesn't confer beauty.

Well said. I was thinking the same thing recently while reading one of the threads on alexandrite and looking at material on some of the better vendor sites.

All the better for us that beautiful amethyst is accessible and affordable. Just look at the rich purple purple in Barrett's photo - it's practically glowing!

And great mini article, Pandora.
 

Barrett

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Michael_E|1333913612|3166277 said:
Good natural amethyst is not plentiful and is only low in value because about 80%+ of the amethyst floating around is synthetic. Testing to tell the difference between synthetic amethyst and natural is rather expensive, usually more so than the stone being tested, so most just skip it. With so much hard to test synthetic material floating around and without a broad base of demand for natural material there is nothing to push the price up.

Speaking of cheap, have you seen the cost of large synthetic colorless diamonds here: http://gemesis.com/diamonds/single?base_color=421 Yep, colorless...scary. :shock:

Great post, Michael!
GRS in 2008 had 60% of all quartz tested at their labs turn out to be synthetic. I agree that good color natural amethyst is not to common.
 

VapidLapid

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I dont think amethyst is cheap. When I See good amethyst it is selling for $40 - $100 per carat. Typically the pieces I like are 250 - 700, and that is not cheap. there is however a plenitude of cheap amethyst, some of it being offered at prices of better specimens. And as MichaelE points out, much of what is out there is sinthetic.
 

Pandora II

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Barrett|1333918893|3166313 said:
Michael_E|1333913612|3166277 said:
Good natural amethyst is not plentiful and is only low in value because about 80%+ of the amethyst floating around is synthetic. Testing to tell the difference between synthetic amethyst and natural is rather expensive, usually more so than the stone being tested, so most just skip it. With so much hard to test synthetic material floating around and without a broad base of demand for natural material there is nothing to push the price up.

Speaking of cheap, have you seen the cost of large synthetic colorless diamonds here: http://gemesis.com/diamonds/single?base_color=421 Yep, colorless...scary. :shock:

Great post, Michael!
GRS in 2008 had 60% of all quartz tested at their labs turn out to be synthetic. I agree that good color natural amethyst is not to common.

Ditto this.

A friend of mine brought me 3 amazing amethysts that she had bought on eBay for peanuts - they came with 'certificates' stating they were natural and giving ludicrous valuations.

Fortunately they were the older type synthetics and could be confirmed quite quickly (no Brazil law twinning in any and breadcrumbs in a couple)- I did point out to her that had I been charging $40+ per stone for the testing, it was going to get expensive very fast. (I was actually quite pleased to have a load of suspects to practice that test with - no fun if you've had to buy the samples yourself and are just verifying).

Hence, I would be wary about buying really good amethyst from anyone who wasn't a reputable vendor and thus aware of what is out there.
 

JewelFreak

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Good point, Pandora. Because it's less expensive than many other desirable stones, it's tempting to the uninformed to pick up "a beautiful amethyst" cheap, but they're probably not gonna get an amethyst at all. True of so much these days & sadly more to come as new synthetic techniques are thought up. I guess the labs have longterm profitability ahead!

--- Laurie
 

Pandora II

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JewelFreak|1333929335|3166391 said:
Good point, Pandora. Because it's less expensive than many other desirable stones, it's tempting to the uninformed to pick up "a beautiful amethyst" cheap, but they're probably not gonna get an amethyst at all. True of so much these days & sadly more to come as new synthetic techniques are thought up. I guess the labs have longterm profitability ahead!

--- Laurie

Not necessarily - very few people actually care.

One of the big labs in the UK actually had to close recently because they weren't getting enough business to cover costs. When you are thinking of buying things like LA-ICP-MS which cost well over $1 million, you need an awful lot of bread-and-butter testing coming through the doors.

Here consumers just aren't interested in having one if it means extra cost. Those who do are then faced with paying well over $350 for a report from somewhere like Gubelin.

Vendors can't afford to invest the money to test all their stock when 99% of their customers don't care and doing so would just make them more expensive than the competition.

At present, some do batch testing for things like amethyst - a couple of random stones from a parcel.

The synthetic stuff is beautiful btw - the minute I opened the packet I knew it was almost certain to be synthetic as that colour doesn't cost $10 for an 8ct stone!
 

movie zombie

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my MIL has a large emerald cut amethyst e-ring...lighter color....and i love it. she doesn't wear it 24/7...more of a special occasion/dress up thing. but it was what she wanted way back when and its what she loves.
 

PrecisionGem

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From a cutters standpoint amethyst and other quartz are kind of a mixed bag. While top color material is not cheap, it's not really expensive when comparing it to most other stones in the rough. The problem comes in with the cutting of it, and the price you can charge for a cut piece. It makes no sense to cut a 1 ct stone in quartz, as you just can't charge much for such a small stone, and you could easily spend a few hours cutting it. So this means one really needs to cut larger pieces. Larger stones take a lot longer to cut than smaller stones, and quartz, while not really difficult to cut, presents problems. It tends to clog up on your laps slowing them down. It doesn't polish well with diamond, so you need to take some different routes to polish and this too can take longer. What happens is, you end up spending a lot of time cutting a stone that may not warrant the effort. But the flip side is, you don't have a ton of money tied up in the rough.
 

chrono

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For one, amethyst is plentiful compared to other gemstone types, which is why it is so inexpensive comparatively. That said, high quality amethyst is NOT cheap. Also, undisclosed synthetic amethyst have flooded the market, which makes it seem like all amethyst are very cheap.
 

mastercutgems

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I have to agree with Gene as I usually do :roll:

As we are cutters and I know I have to watch what and how I spend my time at the machine; as time is money...

For example 15 years ago Zambian amethyst was still 2 dollars a carat for cobbed rough. Sounds cheap but when you multiply that times 3 to get a idea of material lost when cutting; that is 6 dollars a carat; then as Gene said cutting is the easy part; but Zambian amethyst seems to be harder and take longer and a little more complicated to get a very good polish; orient the gem as to not bee too dark and bring out the blue and red flashes it is know for can take some orienting time as well.

So in the end it is not cheap... Not when you could compare Bolivian or Uruguayan amethyst for 25 cents per carat...

Now with all the synthetics and reconstituted quartz on the market that no one is will to do the testing to find out if it is unnatural; why bother... As it many times takes less time to cut a tsavorite garnet, Burma Spinel, etc. than to mess with the amethyst; so look at the price return... Makes you think about paying the bills and why do it... I will agree; it when cut and polished properly can be one of the most lovely gems in nature; I love the stuff the Jackson crossroads material, Zambian, and many others are just lovely. I know I have come to the point of sending most of my amethyst rough to Sri Lanka and let them mess with it as it bogs one down in polishing the stuff.

When us cutters do cut a rare and lovely piece it usually winds up in the family collection as we can not justify the charge associated with the piece as we have to compete with the synthetics or lab altered ones...

Just another cutters 2 cents worth...

Most respectfully;

Dana
 

Chicago Girl

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Good natural amethyst is not plentiful and is only low in value because about 80%+ of the amethyst floating around is synthetic. Testing to tell the difference between synthetic amethyst and natural is rather expensive, usually more so than the stone being tested, so most just skip it. With so much hard to test synthetic material floating around and without a broad base of demand for natural material there is nothing to push the price up.

Speaking of cheap, have you seen the cost of large synthetic colorless diamonds here: http://gemesis.com/diamonds/single?base_color=421 Yep, colorless...scary.

Michael - random, but I LOVE the color of the gemstone in your avatar. What kind of gemstone is that?
 

T L

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99% of the stuff I see on the market is that light to medium toned, flat colored Brazilian material, which is cheap as it should be. If you can find some very saturated bluish purple material with red flashes, please let me know, because it's very difficult to find, especially for cheap prices. Most of the stuff on the market that looks like that is synthetic as well. I bought a Zambian amethyst around 15 years ago which is that saturated bluish purple with red flashes. It was $35/ct back then. I don't know what it would cost now, but I would be happy to pay that much if I could find one.

As for synthetic material, don't quote me on this, but I believe natural material has zoning, and that's one way to tell if it's natural vs synthetic. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

TLzambianamethyst4.JPG
 

Kim Bruun

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That is quite a gorgeous amethyst, TL! I recently bought a Zambian amethyst from multicolour - just short of 5 carats and about 15 dollars a carat. It is not as nice as yours, but still nice. Very dark, though - at first, I thought the material very dark purple, but I also think there is some extinction going on. The colour is a rich, velvety purple with what I would call red flashes. And it has some fine needle inclusions and some colour zoning (both of which are only visible with the bottom up) - two things I wouldn't expect to see in synthetic material (but it must be said that I'm no expert).
 

T L

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Kim Bruun|1334004153|3166819 said:
That is quite a gorgeous amethyst, TL! I recently bought a Zambian amethyst from multicolour - just short of 5 carats and about 15 dollars a carat. It is not as nice as yours, but still nice. Very dark, though - at first, I thought the material very dark purple, but I also think there is some extinction going on. The colour is a rich, velvety purple with what I would call red flashes. And it has some fine needle inclusions and some colour zoning (both of which are only visible with the bottom up) - two things I wouldn't expect to see in synthetic material (but it must be said that I'm no expert).

Thanks, it is important to note that too much extinction is not considered a desirable thing in any gemstone. The stone above is a nice medium dark stone with barely any extinction. I've had people notice it from across a room. The baguettes under the stone are African material as well. Nice amethyst is very difficult to come by. I have one amethyst which is so dark that I'm too embarrassed to post it, as it looks almost black, although it does have red flashes. I once bought a Uruguayan stone, which wasn't as good quality in person. It was also medium dark in tone, but the color was flat flat flat, no red or blue in it at all. I sold it to someone I worked with, as she loved it.

My biggest problem with most amethyst is the fact that many lack a secondary color. A good amethyst should be a nice violet color, not a flat grape juice color, no matter the tone. The stone above looks much like a tanzanite in some lighting and it can go very bluish purple.
 

Haywood74

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TL|1334013170|3166940 said:
My biggest problem with most amethyst is the fact that many lack a secondary color. A good amethyst should be a nice violet color, not a flat grape juice color, no matter the tone. The stone above looks much like a tanzanite in some lighting and it can go very bluish purple.
The Zambian Ammy's I had George Ellis cut for my wife is much like you describe, although they are a bit lighter in color than your gorgeous ring. I wouldn't go so far as to call them "Tanzanite-looking" in some light, but they do throw off a strong blue component. The JXR stuff I still have left are much more like that. When I turn on the dining room light and look into the display case, they are almost glowing while they just look dark purple when no lights are on in the room.
 

RSargent

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Thanks. The ring is an estate piece from Portsmouth NH. I love the color combination.
 

JewelFreak

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I really like that too. The color combination is unusual & very attractive. Are the tourmalines indicolites? They bring out the amethyst well.

--- Laurie
 

Zeb

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Attached are natural rough uncut stones from Zambia. Smallest Green emeralds, much of the chunk is Amethyst, then there is Garnet and also uncleaned emeralds . Can some one please advise how much these could cost. either per gram or per carat. My pictures are not very clear though
IMG_20190103_124208_resized_20190103_035919653.jpg IMG_20190103_124314.jpg IMG_20190103_124229_resized_20190103_035920027.jpg IMG_20190103_124247_resized_20190103_035920429.jpg IMG_20190103_124254_resized_20190103_035918052.jpg IMG_20190103_124301_resized_20190103_035918877.jpg
 

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LemonMoonLex

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It's the purple form of quartz and therefore available in large quantities. Quartz makes up around 12% of the earth's crust. Premium colour can be quite expensive.

Until the 18th Century, amethyst was considered a 'cardinal' gemstone along with diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald due to its rarity. The value was once the same as that of a white diamond of the same weight - at the time, most amethysts came from Indian, Sri Lanka and the Urals in Russia.

In the late 18th Century significant deposits were found in Brazil and the bottom dropped out of the market. The conditions needed for amethyst to form are uncomplicated (compared with emerald for example which theoretically shouldn't exist), they are relatively stable when subjected to wide pressure and heat ranges and are resistant to weathering.

Stones such as rubies, sapphires, emeralds etc are very rare and extremely rare in fine qualities. Tsavorite garnets are 200 times rarer than emeralds and are expensive - almandine garnets pretty much grow like weeds and are very cheap in comparision.

Basically it comes down the the fundamentals of supply and demand...

Quartz has about a gazillion different forms that can be used as gemstones, it can also be treated easily - 99.9% of citrine on the market is produced by heating the less desirable shades of amethyst. It can also be treated to produce praisolite (erroneously marketed as 'Green Amethyst')

ETA: Although the premium colour for amethyst is called 'Deep Siberian', the finest amethysts have tended to be Sri Lankan, Brazilian and more recently Zambian rather than Russian.


Oooh you have me interested in why theoretically emeralds shouldnt be able to grow. Id love to hear the explaination as emerald is probably my favorite stone (tied with green garnets; demantoid/tsav.)

& what a thought out explanation!
Although I've heard that there are tons of diamonds so, shouldnt they be a little cheaper? Or is our societies demand for them so high?

*ooops, I see that this thread is almost six years old*
 
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