Amethyst, a popular purple variety of quartz, is considered a durable and water-safe gemstone. With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, amethyst can withstand exposure to water without risk of damage. However, there are some precautions to keep in mind when getting amethyst wet.
While brief contact with water does not harm amethyst, prolonged soaking or submersion can cause the stone to become saturated and lose its luster. Amethyst should not be left sitting in saltwater for extended periods, as the salt can have a corrosive effect over time. When wet, amethyst may temporarily change color, but will return to normal as it dries. It’s best to avoid letting amethyst soak for too long to prevent permanent discoloration. Gentle soaps are safe for cleaning amethyst, but harsh, exfoliating soaps should be avoided to prevent scratching the surface. A quick rinse under running water or brief immersion in saltwater will not hurt amethyst.
Exposure to hot water and sudden temperature changes does pose a risk for amethyst. While warm water can be used for cleaning, water over 104°F can cause amethyst to lose its color vibrancy. Never subject amethyst to sudden temperature shocks, as this can damage the crystal structure. It’s best to use lukewarm water and air-dry amethyst after rinsing to avoid heat exposure. With some basic precautions, amethyst can safely come into contact with water without concern of damage. Proper care will help maintain the crystal’s integrity and keep your amethyst looking its best.
An Introduction to Amethyst
Amethyst is a violet or purple variety of quartz, which is the second most abundant mineral on Earth. It’s composed of silicon dioxide (SiO2) and owes its color to trace amounts of iron impurities. The name “amethyst” comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning “not drunken” as it was believed to prevent intoxication if drunk from a cup carved from the stone.
Amethyst ranges in hue from pale lilac to deep reddish purple. The most valued shade is an intense royal purple with red flashes. Stones with this saturation and vibrancy of color are rare and therefore more expensive. Amethyst occurs in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks across the globe. Some of the most significant deposits are located in Brazil, Mexico, Africa, Canada, Russia, and the United States.
In terms of gemstone properties, amethyst ranks 7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, making it suitable for use in jewelry. Its defining physical features include:
- Hardness – As a quartz mineral, amethyst has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means it is durable enough for jewelry use and everyday wear. Diamonds, which have a rating of 10, are the only mineral harder than amethyst.
- Crystal structure – Amethyst crystallizes in the trigonal crystal system. The six-sided prism termination is a unique growth habit of amethyst crystals.
- Refractive index – With a refractive index of 1.544-1.553, amethyst has relatively high optical dispersion compared to other gems. This gives it an intense play of color.
- Pleochroism – Amethyst can display pleochroism, which means it can show different colors when viewed from different angles. This adds to the optical effects.
- Color – The hallmark color of amethyst spans from light to deep purple and violet hues. Trace minerals like iron and manganese are responsible for the coloration. Irradiation is sometimes used to produce darker varieties.
- Luster – When polished, amethyst has a vitreous to resinous luster. In crystal form, the luster can range from earthy to brilliant.
- Fracture – Amethyst has a conchoidal (“seashell-like”) fracture pattern due to its quartz composition. This can make the rough gems prone to fracture if knocked against hard surfaces.
Comparison Table of Amethyst with Some Other Popular Gemstones
|Gemstone||Hardness||Toughness||Water Safety||Heat Tolerance||Price Range|
|Amethyst||7||Good||Generally safe, avoid soaking||Moderate, avoid extremes||$15-$100+/ct|
|Ruby||9||Excellent||Avoid soaking, clean soon after exposure||Excellent||$100-$5000+/ct|
|Emerald||7.5-8||Poor, many fractures||Avoid water exposure||Poor, avoid heat||$50-$10000+/ct|
|Aquamarine||7.5-8||Good||Excellent water safety||Moderate||$100-$1000+/ct|
|Tanzanite||6.5-7||Poor, brittle||Avoid soaking, clean soon after exposure||Poor, avoid heat||$300-$1000+/ct|
|Opal||5.5-6||Poor, fragile||Avoid water exposure||Very poor, avoid heat||$50-$500+/ct|
|Pearl||2.5-4.5||Poor, soft||Avoid chemicals/acid, restring when wet||Poor, avoid heat||$50-$500+/pearl|
Is Amethyst Safe to Get Wet?
Given its composition and hardness, amethyst is considered a water-safe gemstone. Brief contact with water does not harm amethyst or pose any risks. However, there are a few precautions regarding prolonged water exposure.
The Effect of Water on Amethyst
When amethyst becomes saturated in water for an extended period, a few things may happen:
- Temporary color change – The gemstone can take on a darker tone which fades back to normal as the stone dries out.
- Loss of luster – Prolonged soaking diminishes the vitreous luster and leaves the surface appearing dull.
- Discoloration – In rare cases, overly saturated amethyst can turn brownish-gray permanently if left to soak too long.
- Fractures – Existing fractures may expand due to water entering the crevices and applying pressure inside the stone.
To avoid damage, it’s best not to let amethyst soak or sit submerged for more than a day or two at most. The good news is amethyst can withstand temporary immersion without any issues.
While brief dips in the ocean or saltwater pools and springs won’t hurt amethyst, prolonged submersion isn’t recommended. The salts can slowly corrode the gem over time, so it’s best to rinse saltwater from amethyst jewelry after swimming. Take care not to leave amethyst sitting in saltwater tanks or displays for more than a few days.
Hot Water Risks
Amethyst can safely come into contact with mildly warm water up to about 100-105°F – great for cleaning! However, high temperatures pose a risk. Heating amethyst above 250°F can cause permanent damage by altering the crystal lattice structure.
Sudden temperature changes also create risk. Thermal shock from plunging hot amethyst into cold water (or vice versa) can fracture the gem. Always allow the stone to cool down gradually before rinsing in cold water.
Maintaining Water Safety
To keep your amethyst safe around water, follow these tips:
- Rinse jewelry after hand-washing, bathing, dishwashing, etc.
- Avoid prolonged soaking or submersion past 1-2 days.
- Use warm, not hot water for cleaning.
- Allow amethyst to air dry instead of blow drying on hot settings.
- Take off amethyst jewelry before hot tubs, saunas, heated pools, etc.
- Store amethyst away from direct sunlight, heat vents or other heat sources while drying.
With basic care, you don’t need to panic if your amethyst gets splashed or temporarily wet! Just be mindful of extended soaking, saltwater, and high temperatures.
Cleaning Amethyst Gemstones
While amethyst is durable, it still requires proper maintenance to keep it sparkling. Here are some recommended methods for safely cleaning your amethyst:
Ultrasonic and Steam Cleaners
For jewelry retailers and collectors with many amethyst pieces, an ultrasonic or steam cleaner makes maintenance efficient. Ultrasonic cleaners use high frequency vibrations to lift dirt and oils from gemstone crevices. Steam cleaners blast jewelry with gentle jets of steam to dissolve buildup.
Both methods are safe for cleaning amethyst as long as the gems don’t have any fractures or weak spots. The vibration of ultrasonic cleaning could further damage already cracked stones. Never put soft, porous gems like pearls or opal in an ultrasonic cleaner – it will damage their delicate surfaces.
Soap and Water
For individual gems or jewelry pieces, an old-fashioned soap and water scrub is effective. Use warm, soapy water and a very soft brush or cloth to gently clean the amethyst. Avoid exfoliating soaps or cleaning products with harsh chemicals or acids as these can scratch, dull, or erode amethyst over time.
Make sure to rinse all soap residue after cleaning. You can dry the amethyst with a soft cloth or let air dry. Heat drying can lead to fractures so avoid blow dryers, direct sunlight, radiators, etc.
For a deeper clean, try a dilute vinegar soak. The acetic acid in vinegar can dissolve mineral buildup. Mix 1 part white vinegar with 1-2 parts warm water. For heavier grime, increase the vinegar concentration.
Place the amethyst in the solution for 10-15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and pat dry with a soft cloth. This method should not be used repeatedly as the acid can erode polished surfaces over time.
Here’s an unusual trick you may not have tried – a rice bath! Simply fill a bowl with dry brown rice and nestle your amethyst pieces down into the grains. The rice will gently absorb dirt, oils, and residue from the stone’s surface.
Leave the amethyst to soak for a day or two. The rice can be discarded afterward (do not cook and eat it!). This technique is completely natural and non-abrasive. It’s great for cleansing crystals.
For restoring lackluster rough or tumbled stones, use a sand bath. Fill a container with fine sand or rock polishing grit. Bury the amethyst in the sand and let it sit for several hours to gently wear off the top layer. Rinse the sanded stones to reveal a refreshed interior surface.
Direct sunlight has natural cleansing properties. If your amethyst is looking dull, try placing it in sunlight for a few hours. The UV radiation and heat will help remove impurities from the gem’s surface. Just monitor the stones closely and remove them if the sunlight is too intense. Reflective stones like amethyst can overheat in the focal point of sunlight.
Proper storage is key to keeping your amethyst in top condition between wearings:
- Keep amethyst away from heat sources like stoves, space heaters, and heating vents. The heat can cause fractures or discoloration.
- Don’t store amethyst in direct sunlight for extended periods. Use closed boxes or drawers. For displaying crystals, rotate them out of bright window light.
- Avoid drastic swings in humidity. Keep the storage space climate-controlled at a stable humidity level.
- Wrap crystals in soft cloth or place in divided compartments so they don’t knock against each other. Hard impacts can chip crystals.
- Clean your storage containers regularly as dust buildup can dull amethyst. Anti-tarnish strips help keep metal jewelry storage clean.
- For valuable stones, use padded storage boxes designed specifically for gemstones. Felt-lined drawers also protect against scratches.
Follow these tips to create an ideal storage environment for your amethyst. Proper storage will help retain the stone’s brilliance and value over time.
Amethyst Crystal Cleansing
In addition to physical cleaning, many crystal healers practice energetic cleansing techniques to remove negative vibrations:
Smudging involves burning dried herbs like sage, sweetgrass or palo santo to produce cleansing smoke. Hold the amethyst in the smoke or fan the smoke over the stones to purify their energies. Smudging originated with North American Indigenous cultures.
Leaving amethyst out under the light of the full moon is said to revitalize the stones with lunar energy. Crystal practitioners believe the interaction with the moon’s cycles helps clear stagnant energies.
Exposure to sound waves is believed to vibrational cleanse stones. Singing bowls, chimes, gongs, and tuning forks are commonly used. Place the amethyst directly on the instrument as it plays to transfer the sound waves.
Reiki is an alternative healing practice that channels positive energy through the practitioner’s hands. Holding the amethyst during a Reiki session or requesting the healer direct energy specifically toward the stone is considered spiritually cleansing.
Returning amethyst to the earth by temporarily burying is said to cleanse and reboot the stone’s natural energies. Ensure you mark the location for re-finding later! Some also recommend burying with quartz or hematite to amplify the cleansing effects.
Make a paste of sea salt and water and rub gently over the amethyst. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water afterward. The salt is believed to absorb negative energies which are released as the salt dissolves. Use this method sparingly as the salt could eventually erode the gem’s polish.
The Spiritual Meaning and Healing Properties of Amethyst
In crystal healing beliefs, amethyst carries a spiritual meaning and an array of metaphysical properties that give it the nickname the “sobriety stone.”
Amethyst is associated with emotional healing, stress relief, and bringing inner peace. It’s said to help relieve anxiety, anger, grief, and addiction. Its serenity-boosting energy promotes inner strength, courage, and stability during difficult times.
This soothing stone offers protective energies to help keep the wearer safe from harm and bad energy. Its spiritual shielding powers are said to deter nightmares, stress dreams, and insomnia.
Amethyst enhances intuition and insight, allowing for deeper self-contemplation. It helps connect to your higher self, opening you to your deepest wisdom, desires, and spiritual purpose.
In crystal lore, amethyst helps fight addictions by alleviating overindulgence and destructive compulsions. It brings temperance and sobriety to those working through substance abuse issues.
The rich purple color reflects its regal, sacred properties. Amethyst adorned bishops’ rings and royalty’s crowns throughout history. It remains one of the most revered crystals for spiritual work and healing.
Amethyst in Jewelry
Thanks to its beauty and durability, artisans have crafted amethyst into jewelry for thousands of years. Here are some key factors when buying and wearing amethyst jewelry:
With a hardness of 7, amethyst makes durable jewelry for everyday wear. It’s suitable for rings, bracelets, pendants, and earrings that take moderate impact. For high-impact rings, opt for a bezel setting to protect the stone’s edges.
Jewelry-grade amethyst is eye-clean with a rich, saturated color ranging from light to deep reddish purple. Stones with hints of red and blue flashes are most desirable. Pale amethyst is still lovely but lower value.
Well-cut facets enhance amethyst’s brilliance and color depth. Look for precision cutting with excellent optical light reflection. Avoid stones with large facet junction gaps or misaligned facets.
Sterling silver, yellow gold, white gold, platinum are all classic pairings for amethyst jewelry. For necklaces prone to touching the skin, avoid copper which can cause discoloration. Rose gold pairs gorgeously with purple amethyst for a romantic look.
Oval, emerald, cushion, trillion, and pear cuts look stunning in amethyst. Cabochons displays the stone’s smooth, glassy luster. Geometric shapes suit modern styles. Large statement rounds make beautiful cocktail rings.
Better color saturation means higher cost. Jewelry-quality medium purple amethyst costs $15-$30 per carat. Deep purple stones with red flashes range $50-$100 per carat. Premium “Siberian” amethyst with deep red-violet color exceeds $150 per carat.
Identifying Synthetic and Treated Amethyst
Natural, unaltered amethyst is prized for its authentic beauty. But buyer beware – some stones labeled amethyst are synthetic or altered to change color. Here’s how to spot them:
Lab-grown amethyst is chemically identical to mined but costs less. Examine facets for curved growth striations, a telltale sign of synthetic manufacturing. Also look for perfect clarity since labs can grow flawless material. Confirm with testing if source is uncertain.
Some light amethyst is dyed purple to increase value. Examine facets near the girdle under magnification. Look for purple dye concentrated around fractures reaching the surface. Dyed stones often show uneven, splotchy color distribution.
Natural amethyst can be altered to dark purple by controlled irradiation. Irradiated stones often have a grayish tint in natural light, turning more purple under incandescent bulbs. Careful testing is required to confirm irradiation.
Heating amethyst above 400°C can turn it yellow, orange, green or red/pink. Verify the seller discloses any heat treatment. Examine inclusions for dark iron staining, a clue the stone was heated to high temps.
Synthetic, dyed and irradiated amethyst is still wearable. But undisclosed treatment lowers value, so insist on verification of authenticity. Buy from reputable sellers who provide detailed disclosure.
Frequently Asked Questions about Amethyst
Is amethyst safe in chlorinated pools or hot tubs?
It’s best to remove amethyst jewelry before entering hot tubs, pools with high chlorine levels, or any heated water. The heat and chemicals can potentially damage or discolor amethyst over time. Brief contact is okay, but prolonged exposure in heated pools and tubs can pose long-term risks.
Can I wear amethyst in the shower or bath?
Yes, amethyst jewelry is safe to wear while bathing and showering. Just be sure to remove lotions, hair products, and soap residue from the gem after to prevent buildup. Rinse the jewelry well after washing hands to remove any chemical exposure. Avoid using harsh exfoliating soaps that could scratch the amethyst.
Should I take my amethyst ring off before doing housework?
Rings are prone to knocks, chemicals, and dirt during housework. It’s best to remove your amethyst ring before cleaning, gardening, washing dishes, or any task requiring harsh chemicals. Wearing gloves can help protect the ring, but removing prevents accidental damage.
How often should I clean my amethyst jewelry?
Clean amethyst jewelry every few months and after significant exposure to dirt, oils, chemicals, lotions, etc. Annual professional cleanings are a good idea for rings and pieces worn daily. Use soap and water for regular cleanings. For a deeper clean, try an ultrasonic cleaner, steamer, or dilute vinegar bath.
Can I put my amethyst bracelet or necklace in an ultrasonic cleaner?
Yes, ultrasonic cleaning is safe for most amethyst jewelry as long as there are no fractures or weak spots in the gems. Avoid using ultrasonics on pieces containing very soft or delicate gems like pearl, opal, turquoise, etc as it can damage their porous surfaces.
Is sunlight bad for amethyst?
Direct strong sunlight can potentially fade the color of amethyst over time, especially paler stones. Avoid leaving amethyst jewelry in bright sun for extended periods. Store pieces away from windows and lightboxes. Brief indirect sun is okay, like wearing outdoors, but prolonged exposure can cause fading. Rotate crystals displayed in sunlight.
Can I sleep with my amethyst pendant or bracelet on?
It’s best to remove all jewelry before sleeping to prevent damage from tossing and turning. The safest option is placing amethyst jewelry in a box overnight. If you prefer to keep it on, check that clasps and settings are secure so the piece can’t rub against surfaces or fall off during sleep.
One of nature’s loveliest gems, amethyst combines beauty, durability, and metaphysical intrigue. With proper care around water and heat, amethyst can remain an alluring jewel for many years. Learn the safety precautions, but don’t be afraid to let your amethyst see the light of day. Its regal elegance deserves to be shown off!