Amethyst is an extremely popular gem because of its attractive purple color. It is the purple color variety of quartz that has been used in personal adornment for over 2000 years. Amethyst actually occurs in many purple colors. The purple color can be so light that it is barely perceptible or so dark that it is nearly opaque. It can be reddish purple, purple, or violetish purple. Today much of the light amethyst is used to cut small calibrated stones for use in mass-market jewelry. Most of the premium reddish purple color amethyst is being used in high-end or designer jewelry.
Amethyst is the birthstone of February and an important New Age gem. It is used to produce faceted stones, cabochons, beads, tumbled stones, and many other items for jewelry and ornamental use. Amethyst has a Mohs hardness of 7 and does not break by cleavage. That makes it durable enough for use in rings, bracelets, earrings, pendants, and any type of jewelry.
The first step in amethyst receiving its purple color begins during crystal growth. That is when trace amounts of iron are incorporated into a growing quartz crystal. After crystallization, gamma rays, emitted by radioactive materials within the host rock, irradiate the iron to produce the purple color. The world’s most important amethyst deposits are usually found in the fractures and cavities of igneous rocks. Large cavities can contain hundreds of pounds to several tons of amethyst crystals. Smaller cavities, known as geodes, are often opened in a way that displays the crystals inside and then fitted with a base that allows them to be used as home or office decor. They are popular sales items at rock shops and mineral shows.
Amethyst crystals reported to be of a good colour occur with banded agate along the walls of caves and in vugs near Scottie Creek. The occurrence is on the south side of Scottie Creek just west of the mouth of Chrome Creek and near the 3,000 foot level. Agate nodules and geodes containing amethyst occur in basalt rock near Robbins Creek. Geodes containing amethyst crystals and grey chalcedony are found along the Green Mountain road, 8 to 10 miles west of Penticton. The geodes are said to measure up to 10 inches in diameter.
Amethyst -lined geodes also occur at Little River Camp near Squilax, at Pillar Lake south of Chase, and near Cherry Creek.