Tag Archives: amethyst

Royal Purple

Amethyst from Erte’s Precious Gems Suite

Amethyst is the traditional birthstone for the month of February.

 

(I remember being jealous as a kid, since there were purple stones for February but October always got something pink instead of opal or even fake opal!)

 

Iron impurities in quartz give amethyst its wonderful purples-from pale lilac to royal.

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(Un)earthly Color

I fell for jacaranda trees when I saw them live for the first time this Spring. They belong in more tropical climes then I do, so I’d only seen them in pictures.

 

I’d been told in the past that my amethyst tree looked like a jacaranda, but when I saw them in person I though they looked carved from tanzanite. (And thus upon my return the hunt for appropriate gems!) I stumbled on this lovely poem when I was looking up the jacaranda for color checks:

 

 

A Jacaranda Tree

Ann Beard

 

 A Jacaranda tree stands tall, and sways as if to say,

Look! At this magnificence, I’m wearing blue today.

forgive the way I shout aloud, my lack of modesty,

but nowhere in this troubled world is finery like me.

 

Light rays slide between each leaf, to settle on the tips

to lightly kiss your face with a hundred million tiny lips.

You only have to lift your eyes to greet the filtered sun

a sight I guarantee will warm the heart of everyone.

 

Though very tall, my leaf is small, its form is one of fern,

large panicles of bluebells swell to trumpet unconcern.

A Bee collecting nectar from an ample deep white throat,

takes flight to join its family, and of its feast to gloat.

 

Look up to see each fern like leaf, floating up on high,

like footprints of a centipede that stroll across the sky

See how far my branches reach, admire their greenery,

so beautiful and strong, I am the Jacaranda tree.

 

When I got home I started puttering with colors to make a jacaranda tree pendant. Alone the tanzanite looked a little too cold, so I mixed in amethyst for warmth, added labradorite for a flash of blue and peridot for a hint of greenery. I think the tanzanite still firmly holds center stage though!

 

Tanzanite is a rare blue/purple/violet gem only found in Tanzania. (Generally it looks more sapphire blue in natural light and more purple in artificial light.) It’s actually much rarer than diamond.

 

Tanzanite is a blue form of zoisite. In 1967 miners discovered some beautiful translucent violet stones while mining for graphite. It gained its trade name of Tanzanite from a marketing campaign by Tiffany & Co. They wanted to emphasize its rarity didn’t think it would sell under the name blue zoisite.

After the first bout of blue stones the trail ran out. All miners found were russet and khaki colored zoisites. They sent samples for study to the same German company that had handled the original gems. The samples were tested, and it was discovered that heating those brown stones to over 700 degrees got rid of the browns and yellows and turned them into the striking blues.

 

At this point it is pretty much assumed that any tanzanite on the market has been heat treated. Since this is a known practice, it isn’t considered a cheat.

 

(When trying to figure out the best colors to describe the stone I was looking color names up online. I think of violet as purple towards the blue end of the spectrum, which it is…but apparently web violet is a from of magenta. Who knew? And who knows why? Why not just call it pale magenta?)

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Gems underfoot

I loved Ann Hinde’s display for the International Flower Arranging show’s mineral theme when I saw it this summer. It was inspired by an amethyst geode.

Amethyst is a popular stone, one of very few naturally occurring fully purple gems. It is the traditional birthstone for February. Amethyst is a variant of quartz. Iron impurities give it those beautiful shades of purple. Regarding its famous color-if you run across prasiolite, sometimes called green amethyst, just be aware that it’s most likely heat treated or irradiated. (It’s not an issue, so long as you know and aren’t being told or charged for the natural gem. They are a lovely mint green, it’s just that the natural stone is extremely rare.)

geode with amethyst pendant

Geodes are partially filled hollow cavities in rock that are lined by minerals. Their name comes from the Greek for earthlike. (As in Gaia.)

One example of a geode would be a gas bubble in lava. That hollow stays and over time solutions containing dissolved minerals can filter in and leave deposits within the hollow, often resulting in layers of agate and then layers of quartz and/or calcite crystals.

Studying the order of the layers can give a window into the geologic history of the area in which the geode is found.

I like working with slices of geodes because you get to see that external skin and the swirls of agate layers as well as the sparkling crystals.

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Groundhogs and Ice

Another Mucha image, this one is Amethyst, in honor of February’s Birthstone.

So happy February. And Happy Goundhog Day, apparently it’s been translated as proclaiming spring is coming… Though I’m thinking the poor guy probably went the hell with it, when I get outta here I’m hibernating until June at least… (For the record, unlike the groundhog, I could totally be bribed with a milano cookie.)

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