A Guide to Arizona Amethyst

Amethyst is from Brazil. And Uruguay. And Bolivia. And Arizona? That’s right! Though you likely won’t find amethyst from Arizona in most jewelry stores, Sami’s is fortunate enough to stock this royal purple beauty. Though it’s true, the majority of amethyst that you’ll find on the market is from Brazil, we think there’s a case for appreciating the treasures you can find a little closer to home. Considering how much more gorgeous Arizona amethyst is, we think you’ll agree!

Gem Knowledge

Most people are familiar with amethyst - it’s the pretty purple gem that’s the birthstone for February. But amethyst has so much more to offer. Let’s start with the basics: it’s a form of quartz, which can be found in a multitude of colors. Amethyst gets its violet hue from the presence of iron when the crystal formed. Arizona amethyst is similar in this way, the prevailing color is a deep purple. However, there isn’t just iron in the area where Arizona amethyst forms, it’s actually a compound called iron manganese. The addition of magnesium actually gives these gems a red shift of color in addition to the violet! This gives these gems a unique look,
even compared to other dark purple amethyst.

Amethyst, like most any quartz, is rated as a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. This makes it durable for jewelry. As with most gems, though, caution is always a good thing! Amethyst can be sensitive to drops or hard bumps against a surface, so it’s best for special occasions or careful wear. Amethyst can also lighten in color if it’s left in bright sunlight for a prolonged amount of time.

Jewel in the Desert

While it’s true that amethyst can be found in most places, the Arizona locale is truly special. It is mined within the “Four Peaks” Mountains - a clearly defined quad of peaks within the Mazatzal Mountains, about 40 miles northeast of Phoenix. Who would have thought that these gems could be found just outside a major city? Even more amazing, these gems are in such a remote location that the mine can only be accessed by hike or by helicopter. When temperatures cooperate, miners take the long hike through the Four Peaks wilderness, and stay onsite at the mine for no more than a few weeks at a time.

Because the amethyst is partially embedded in the walls of the mine, utmost care is taken in extracting the crystals. If the wall becomes damaged, it’s likely that the rare amethyst will be damaged as well. In fact, it is because of this reason, coupled with the fact that the mine sits on a nature preserve, that no power tools are used. The amethyst is mined carefully by hand. Even the miner’s campsite uses solar energy and small generators, so there is minimal damage to the environment. This, in turn, means that only a small amount of rough amethyst crystals can be mined at a time. In fact, only a few handfuls of gemstone quality Arizona Amethyst are produced in a year! Truly, mining this treasure is a labor of love.

Rare Red

So, what’s really the deal with this red flash in the amethyst? Interestingly enough, it gets its name and value from amethyst from a different location - Siberia. Though there aren’t a lot of similarities between Arizona and Russia, one strange thing connects the two. Elements in the ground that behave the same way.

Value for amethyst is almost exclusively dependent on color. At one point in time, mines in Siberia produced the world’s finest amethyst with rich tones of red and blue along with the violet color most amethyst is known for. Today, the Siberian mine has stopped commercially producing amethyst, however, the name is still in use to describe amethyst of the same quality and caliber. The Four Peaks Mine is the only commercially run mine that produces amethyst of that same quality. So, odd though it sounds, Arizona produces Siberian quality amethyst!

Between the difficulty in mining this gem, the rare color, and the small amount of rough that is mined, you’d be correct in thinking that it’s hard to find this gemstone. Few stores in the United States carry it, or even now how to get access to it. Luckily, Sami Fine Jewelry has invested in the largest selection of rough and finished Arizona Amethyst gems out there. Now is your chance to own a piece of this rare Arizona beauty!