The real issue with amethyst, citrine, and ametrine is the amount
of synthetic on the world market.
Since we are having so much fun, I thought I’d keep playing. I
agree with you on the above.
I am always amazed at how many jewelers just don’t want to know they
are selling synthetic amethyst. I guess what you don’t know won’t
hurt you? Or ignorance is bliss? Or something like that because it
is everywhere. Especially in fine grape juice color, "unzoned"
amethyst. I have always thought it would be a great lesson to buy
some amethyst that I knew was synthetic and then have it verified by
a lab and sue the store for fraud. Not really my style though, but
man do stores leave themselves vulnerable to this one.
I have always felt that in stones larger than 1 carat the synthetic
is not hard to identify. What is necessary is a knowledge of natural
amethyst zoning, which is nearly always present in the cut natural
stones even when very light color. Once you can recognize this
natural zoning you can learn to recognize the lack of it in the
synthetic material. All the natural amethyst, citrine, and ametrine
I have seen has zoning which occurs in numerous parallel straight
and V patterns. (The V patterns sometimes resemble Christmas trees.
Think 3-D because they are actually 3 lines equally separated,
angled and coming together in a point down the c-axis of the
crystal.) The word numerous is important because even the synthetic
will have some color zoning, but never have I seen numerous parallel
color zones in the synthetic material. Most likely due to it’s
rapid, uniform, laboratory growth. The natural material most likely
grows over longer time in a fluctuating natural environment. (I feel
this may be responsible for the numerous color zones… just my
This zoning is sometimes tricky to see in some materials and may
require revolving the amethyst gem above a white background or even
immersion in water & magnification, but it is always there in the
The problem is smaller stones under 1 carat may not irrefutably show
the natural zoning due to their small size in relation to the size
of the color zoning. In very small stones say, 0.10 carats it is
nearly impossible to see this color zoning and besides the cost of
the stone is so low that it normally does not warrant the effort.
Generally in natural amethyst the better the color the more
pronounced the color zoning. Thus it is easier to see this zoning in
the better color material . Unfortunately there is a tendency in the
market to downgrade stones with visible color zoning. This creates
an even higher demand for stones that are most likely synthetic, and
a reluctance on the part of the seller to seek the truth. Natural
stones of fine color often show some of their zoning. This is often
deemed “detrimental” by many jewelers. Too bad this is the case
because I see it as proof of their origin and should be worn like a
badge of honor.
Steve Green - Rough and Ready Gems see: www.briolettes.com for
our briolette product line