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Man made amethyst question


#1

A friend asked me yesterday how much man-made amethyst is made each
year and how much is sold as man-made amethyst.

I heard years ago that most “real” amethyst on the market is
actually man made. on the order of many tons! Can someone point me
to some numbers to help answer my friend’s questions? I did a search
but came up with no solid facts. Thank you for the help in advance.

Gerald A. Livings
Livingston Jewelers.


#2

Gerald- Most likely not. Amethyst is just purple quartz. Quartz is
very common and dirt cheap. You can buy it by the pound.

A lot of it is heat treated to enhance the color. Same with Citrine
and “Lemon” quartz.

It is more costly to man make amethyst than it is to just dig it up.
Not to say that there are plenty of synthetic stones out there. It
just doesn’t make economic sense to try and sell fake colored quartz.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#3

I have to disagree with this. First, it may be cheap to dig
amethyst, but only part of it is faceting quality, and the cutting
yields are less. second, this is not “fake” quartz, it is real
quartz, even though it wasn’t dug up. Third, the actual fact is that
flawless synthetic colored quartz sells for 10 cents/ct even in small
quantities, whereas natural amethyst of good color is 10 to 40 times
as expensive, and it won’t be flawless.

I have heard estimates that range from 50 to 80% of amethyst and
citrine sold as natural is actually synthetic, but I haven’t found
any hard data.


#4

More than half of the amethyst on the market is synthetic. It
doesn’t make sense to test it all, as the tests are more expensive
than the stones themselves.


#5

At the Denver Gem show this past week, I saw several vendors with
synthetic amethyst, but was amused to see it characterized as
"Japanese amethyst" also had Japanese Green quartz and Japanese
Citrine. All cheap…

They were all uncomfortable when I noted that it was indeed
synthetic material. As a matter of fact, what they wanted was to have
me gone…

Judy Hoch G. G.


#6
It is more costly to man make amethyst than it is to just dig it
up. 
Not to say that there are plenty of synthetic stones out there. It
just doesn't make economic sense to try and sell fake colored
quartz. 

Jo, I must disagree. The difference lies in what quality of amethyst
one is talking about.Common flawed/included stones, those with
lighter color, are most commonly natural. But the finest colors in
grades with few inclusions (fine grade, so-called "siberian"
amethyst)… that stuff is NOT cheap or common, and sells for
substantial prices. Accordingly, since that grade of material is
just as easy to make synthetically as any other, that range of
quality is what is normally manufactured. And while synthetic quartz,
including amethyst, isn’t totally cheap to make, it’s not that
costly. The fine quality synthetic amethyst costs less than similar
natural material, by a significant amount. I’ve heard it said, though
this was some time ago, that in the finest qualities, over 75 percent
of the finest amethyst was synthetic. And given the nature of this
stuff, there seems little objection in the trade of from the public.
As synthetics go, synthetic amethyst is harder to identify than most
synthetic gems.

It IS amethyst, and when it has inclusions, they are often similar
to those found in natural gems. But the synthetic material seldom has
inclusions. The only common difference is that the natural material
shows different twinning habits than usually found in the synthetic,
which can sometimes be seen under specific conditions under a
polariscope. Even this isn’t always the case, and stating a stone is
synthetic or natural because something that is not always there
indeed isn’t there, can be problematic. If you’re looking at even
modest size, but certainly larger sizes of the finest rich reddish
purple color stones without easily found inclusions, it’s normally
safest to assume it’s synthetic, even if it’s being offered as
natural, unless the seller has documentation of some sort or
otherwise gives you reason to believe they’re right. Short of the
better equipped gem labs, the identification of the synthetic is
sometimes difficult, even when one knows what to look for and how to
look for it. It’s not uncommon for dealers to simply sell such fine
stones as probably synthetic simply because they cannot prove it’s
natural, and the statistics, and maybe the price they paid, suggest
that it’s probably not, even if there’s no real gemmological testing
done on a given stone to check.


#7

Wow! Where are you all buying your stones? I buy only from folks I
know.

I’ve never seen synthetic amethyst offered for sale in my 45 years
in the trade.

One of my favorite sources for colored stones is Columbia Gem House
in Vancouver Wa.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep821n

They are the principals behind Fair Gem Trade. They have a huge
selection and a very wide range of stones and prices. Great stones,
nice folks, and environmentally and socially conscious. I personally
love their grape garnets.

When ever I buy an important stone I always take it to my local GIA
certified appraiser for a verbal ID before I cut the check. If I am
spending thousands of dollars I’m more than happy to pay them for
their opinion and it’s a legitimate biz tax write off. Plus before
Tim and I make an important piece that will need to be appraised
after we make it, we usually have the center stone weighed and
appraised by the appraiser before it is set so that they can get an
accurate weight, color, etc. without the mounting getting in the way.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#8

Yes I like Commercial Mineral Company in Scottsdale for my colored
gems…

Russ


#9

I do a bit of lapidary and it is very hard and rare when I see
anything real pure, but when I do it is nice. I have a few pieces
that I am working on right now that have some nice quality, but most
times the stone has a number of beautiful flaws that I still polish
and people still admirer.


#10
I've never seen synthetic amethyst offered for sale in my 45 years
in the trade. 

Jo,… I bet you have seen synthetic amethyst but did not realize
what it was. There is a huge amount of this stuff out there. So much,
that I would venture to say many suppliers no longer even mark it as
synthetic. There are some simple ways to identify it. First look for
any imperfections (synthetic amethyst as most other such stones will
have no flaws). Second, check the color. If it is too good. but the
price is not realistic then it is synthetic. Finally, look for
zoning. Natural amethyst normally will have varying zones of color
while synthetic will be very uniform. The old story of, if it seems
too cheap…it is hold true here. Of course, there are suppliers
out there that will up the price just to make you think it is
natural. Applying a bit of simple identification techniques will
save you many trips to your local GIA rep!!


#11
I've never seen synthetic amethyst offered for sale in my 45 years
in the trade. 

Yes, I think you probably have. Just didn’t know it. How, by the
way, would you tell the difference? Visually and chemically and by
all normal gemological tests, it’s identical, even the most common
types of inclusions, since natural amethyst is also formed in what
amounts to a hydrothermal environment. Finding twinning or it’s lack
in amethyst is not the simplest test to set up, and isn’t totally
conclusive either way, since natural amethyst can be both ways,
though one instance is far more common, thus the test. The main clue
is often quality and size that’s high, but offered at just slightly
too good a price, or lots of stones or rough that’s just cleaner, on
average, than a normal mine run parcel would be expected to be. It
may be you’ve found dealers who test their goods, or can follow the
paper trail back with their stones, rough especially, and know where
it came from. But I know one dealer in rough who says he has
suspected in occasional instances that some Brazilian mine owners may
have salted their lots of rough with some synthetics because telling
the difference can be next to impossible…


#12

Indeed! GIA Colored Gemstones course material from 2-3 years ago
states that there is an undetermined amount of synthetic amethyst on
the market, sold as earth-formed.

It may sound far fetched at first, but synthetic quartz is fairly
easily and inexpensively manufactured for a variety of industrial
purposes, so it wouldn’t be a big stretch to produce purple quartz
(amethyst) and pass it off as mid-range quality in the jewellery
market.

Synthetic quartz is difficult to distinguish from natural if the
material is clean (as mid-range amethyst often is)–most often it
would require the material to be sent to a lab for analysis and isn’t
something that most gemologists can distinguish without very
specialized equipment. As amethyst isn’t a terribly expensive
material, it wouldn’t be feasible o have all of the material sent to
the lab for analysis.

So yes, it is very possible that quite a bit of the material sold as
natural amethyst is synthetic–something to keep in mind.

(Caroline, GIA GG)


#13

Why exactly is whether amethyst, sapphire and for that matter
diamond “natural"or"synthetic” an issue? Surely the issue is whether
it is ethically and sustainably produced and the jeweller who uses it
is open about the source of her material…

If it is purple quartz it is amethyst. If it is cubic centred
crystalline carbon it is diamond.

All the best
Jen


#14

Ok Ok there’s a bunch of synthetic amethyst out there:-)

I don’t usually buy them. The only Amethyst I’ve made a mounting for
was about 18cts and beautiful. Yes I know it was real because I could
see the banding from the side and I know the broker and have known
him for 40 years.

As for synthetic stones I’ve seen many. I also know that if it’s too
good to be true it isn’t. I have always been suspicious of stones
that are too clean. I can’t remember who said it, maybe Chatham or
Gilson “God uses dirty crucibles”.

That said I still always take an important stone to my GIA certed
folks for a verbal before I purchase.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#15

Thank you to everyone who answered my question! I now have a lot to
discuss with my friend who asked me this and got this thread kicked
off. It sounds like the consensus is that there is a lot of man-made
gems being sold as real so it is a buyer beware kind of situation.
Thanks again to everyone.

Jerry
Gerald A. Livings


#16

Gerald, it is not a buyer beware. As a Gemologist I was aware a few
years back, parcels of faceted amethysts had synthetic gems mixed in.

From what I understood then, the synthetic was the same price
virtually because it was too expensive to separate natural from
synthetic. If you buy a mixed parcel for $8 ct., the synthetic are
worth the same as the natural, because that is what you paid. I
think it is seller beware. Prudent disclosure when selling a larger
more expensive amethyst might be to say that it might be synthetic.
Knowing that the market commonly includes synthetics, if it gets
easier to separate synthetic from natural, there could be legal
recourse during a future appraisal. It is a worst case scenario.


#17

Richard, I am not a gemologist but have been in the business of
cutting stones, making jewelry, and selling same for 45 years. If you
bought a parcel of rubies would you take the time to separate natural
from lab created? Mine sellers have been known for years to be mixing
the latter into their parcels. Or,…would you consider both on the
same price level because, due to difficulty in separating them you
paid the same per carat price for both? Likewise, if you purchased a
parcel of amethyst and are fairly certain there are lab created mixed
in you say due to difficulty of separation you would sell both at the
same carat price? Doesn’t make sense.

You, as the stone expert would not be protecting your downstream
clients. I have just finished sorting out a huge estate parcel of
various stones. It has taken me months to separate the naturals from
lab created even though most of the latter were marked as such.
Granted, amethyst is not as expensive as ruby or sapphire but, a
customer should have confidence that what they buy from you is either
the real thing or not, especially if it is a capital gem. Saying it
’might’ be synthetic simply does not cut it.

Cheers from Don at the Charles Belle Studio in SOFL.