Cochise College           Student Papers in Geology

Geology Home Page                   physical geology  historical geology  planetary  gems           

Roger Weller, geology instructor

by Lianza Quinones
Physical Geology
Fall 2011




Chemical Symbol







Transparent to opaque







Crystalline shape



What is Amethyst?

Amethyst is simply purple quartz. The mineral quartz is commonly known to be clear; however, when there is a presence of iron it gets built into the quartz crystal as it is forming. This then transforms clear quartz into amethyst.


Description:                                Description:             


Where can you find amethyst?

Amethyst can be found in many countries around the world. Some of the most common places you can mine for amethyst are Brazil, Uruguay, Zambia, and South Africa. The United States also has some mining of amethyst, it can be found in North Carolina, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.

                            Brazil amethyst mine
                        (photo found at


Mining for amethyst

Africa and South America are the two largest distributors of amethyst in the world. South American countries tend to produce more amethyst because it is found in larger quantities. However, African amethyst tends to have a deeper color when found. In Brazil mining for amethyst is a full time job.  Many people will spend all day searching for amethyst geodes, and going weeks without a find. When a miner finally does find a beautiful geode they are the ones who sell it to buyers for a good profit and then start all over again searching for the next unbelievable find. Many miners will never do anything else to make money.

Description:            Description:
Amethyst geode from Brazil                                                   Amethyst-quartz found in Nigeria
                                            (photos found at


Why is Amethyst so special?

According to Greek mythology the god of intoxication, Dionysus, became angry with the mortals and swore revenge on them. One day she created tigers to carry out her wish of revenge. A beautiful young woman named Amethyst was on her way to pay her tribute to a goddess named Diana. This goddess saw that Amethyst was in trouble with the tigers and so Diana turned Amethyst into a stature of pure crystalline quartz. At the sight of this Dionysus wept tears of wine, forever staining the quartz purple.


This gemstone is now said to protect against drunkenness, in fact the word amethyst come from a Greek word meaning “not drunken”. The theory behind this is that when wine class were made out of amethyst, adding water to it gave the appearance of wine without the effect of it.

Description: Amethyst Wine Glass
                                                    Amethyst wine glass
                                      (photo found at

The color purple has long been the color of royalty. Amethyst has been worn by rulers of England to Egyptian royalty.  Amethyst is even mentioned in the Bible as one of the twelve stone to ornament the breastplate of Yahweh.


Works cited