May 2015 Newsletter: Amethyst from Zambia, Uruguay and Brazil

27.99 ct Amethyst, Brazil

In antiquity, the most valuable gems -- known as the cardinal gems -- were diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire and amethyst.  These were the gems most valued for their rarity, and the ones most associated with royalty, religious authority and magical powers.

The only difference between this list and the more recent concept of precious gems is that amethyst no longer appears on the modern list. This is because extensive amethyst deposits were discovered in Brazil  in the 19th century, and amethyst was no longer regarded as a rare gem.

But the rich purple hue of amethyst retains its allure, and gem collectors still seek out particularly fine specimens. For the fact is, despite the large volume of purple quartz mined in South America, the vast majority of it is commercial grade material with a less saturated color. Fine deep purple amethyst is still fairly rare, though not especially expensive.

Historically, fine amethyst came from the Ural Mountains in Russia and Idar-Oberstein in Germany, though both of these deposits are now exhausted. Very large deposits were discovered in southern Brazil in the early 19th century, with subsequent discoveries in nearby Uruguay. In the 1950's high quality amethyst was found in Zambia

The Zambian amethyst has acquired the reputation as some of the finest in the world due to its unusually rich color. In fact the Zambian stones have such a saturated color that some material has to be rejected as too dark, a problem that rarely occurs with South American amethyst. However, the Zambian amethyst is mainly found in smaller sizes, with stones over 10 carats counting as very rare.

The higher grades of Brazilian and Uruguay amethyst can match the Zambian material and we have seen top grade specimens from all 3 locations. With amethyst, it is always advisable to select the gem, not the location.

Many amethyst collectors search out the deepest richest purples they can find. But while the darker purples are highly prized, you will find they are not as sparkly as the lighter stones. For a livelier stone, look for the medium to medium-dark tones.

For a gem which was once regarded as precious as sapphire, amethyst is very affordable, even at the higher grades. Most fine amethyst is very clean and completely untreated and can be found in large sizes. It's quite a durable gem and is suitable for all kinds of jewelry.

See our collection of Fine Amethyst from South America and Africa


Notable Gems from the AJS Collection

This month we feature some fine new acquisitions to our collection.

Click on a photo to see the details for the item.

2.78 ct Mahenge Spinel from Tanzania

2.78 ct Mahenge Spinel from Tanzania

A gorgeous 2.78 ct pink spinel from Mahenge, Tanzania! A vivid deep pink, this rare spinel is completely loupe clean. Perfectly sized for an impressive ring. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

7.45 ct Aquamarine, Brazil

7.45 ct Aquamarine from Brazil  [SOLD]

A lovely robin's egg blue aquamarine in a large size. Completely clean and expertly fashioned in a portguese cut for added brilliance. This fine gem will set up beautifully in your jewelry design. Guaranteed natural and untreated.


39.46 ct Citrine from Uruguay

39.46 ct Citrine from Uruguay

An impressively large citrine with a bright open color. Beautifully cut and completely clean, this fine citrine will make a gorgeous pendant. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

See the video

16.85 ct Amethyst, Uruguay

16.85 ct Amethyst from Uruguay  [SOLD]

An excellent large amethyst from Uruguay in a rich deep purple. Completely clean and nicely fashioned in a portuguese cut for more sparkle. Perfectly sized for an impressive ring or pendant. Guranteed natural and untreated.

6.41 ct Fire Opal from Mexico

6.41 ct Fire Opal from Mexico  [SOLD]

A very fine Mexican fire opal in a hard-to-find round shape! This large gem (14 mm) has a deep orange-red color with excellent clarity. Precision cut with a fine polish, this impressive opal will set up beautifully in your jewelry design. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

6.40 ct Morganite, Brazil

6.40 ct Morganite from Brazil  [SOLD]

A lovely pink morganite in a perfect ring size. Very clean material that has been beautifully fashioned in a precision portuguese cut to maximize brilliance. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

See our collection of Fine Morganite



News from AJS and the Gems World

  • Sotheby's Sells 100 ct Emerald-Cut Diamond for $22 million

    A 100.2 carat emerald-cut D color IF diamond sold for $22.1 million at Sotheby's recent Magnificient Jewels sale in New York. It is the largest perfect emerald-cut diamond ever sold at auction, and also the highest price paid at auction in New York for any colorless diamond.


Ask the Gem Experts

Each month we answer questions from our customers. We welcome your questions and you can submit a question from our contact page.

I am planning to create an engagement ring with a large blue sapphire. I have seen a ring setting that I really love that takes a 10 mm round center stone. Can I purchase the setting and then find a sapphire to fit it? FF, USA

This approach would work for diamonds, but not for sapphire or other rare colored gems. Where diamonds can be found in every shape and size, finding a round blue sapphire that you love in the 10 mm size is likely to be very challenging -- there simply aren't enough sapphires in the market in that exact size and shape to give you the range of choice you would like. It is better to start by selecting the sapphire that you love, and then have a jeweler make a setting to fit the gem. Rare colored gems are not usually found in calibrated sizes, especially in larger sizes. They are unique products of nature, whereas the mountings are manufactured objects that can be made in any size.


Do you sell pink emerald? I love emeralds and would be thrilled to have a pink one. YP, Australia 

Morganite is the pink or orange-pink variety of the mineral beryl, and is sometimes referred to as "pink emerald". But this name is discouraged in the gem trade, since the term "emerald" is used only for the vivid green beryl colored by chromium and vanadium. Morganite or pink beryl is a fine gem in its own right, and deserves its own name. We have some fine Morganites in our collection, which you can view by clicking on this link: Morganite/Pink Beryl


All the best in gems,

Arnold, Rung & Ron