As I sit writing it is a cold day in winter. We have not had a cold winter in Ontario this year, so it feels good to snuggle in front of the fireplace.
In January, I spent a week in Toronto, teaching a pre exam lab course in Gemmology, at the new classroom for the Canadian Gemmological Association. Located at 55 Queen St, Lower Concourse, in the heart of the Jewellery Industry for Toronto.
The week spent answering questions and having discussions with students forces me to remember things I only use occasionally in my business and of why I enjoy gemmology so much. I even had some time to look at gems that were not set in jewellery and discuss with the students what we were seeing in our instruments. Although the week takes time to prepare for, it is a pleasant and fun gemmological week for me.
When you have the February winter blues think of the gem for the month of February. It is not only found in Canada but is the recognized official gemstone for the province of Ontario.
Amethyst is a variety of the quartz family, widely found in the Thunder Bay area of Ontario, as well as many other countries, and is best known as a violet to deep purple colour. It has been called the colour of royalty. As a member of the quartz family it can be identified through its refractive index of 1.54-1.55 and the SG is 2.65. The hardness of quartz is a standard of 7 on Mohs harndess scale and is used in the jewellery industry of wearablilty. 7 or above on the scale is hard enough for rings etc that take a lot of wearing abuse. They will stand up the best-not to say they can’t chip etc -but that they withstand more than a ring with a moonstone in it. Amethyst is a Silica Oxide. Green Amethyst is marketed in Jewellery but this is usually an Amethyst that has been treated with heat to change the colour. A high enough temperature and heated long enough will cause the green. There is naturally occurring green quartz but it is identified as Prasolite.
There is a lot of folklore surrounding Amethyst-some of it fascinating- such as drink from an Amethyst cup and you won’t get drunk. Amethyst gems were a popular gem in the Victorian era for jewellery and it continues to be a gem that we see today.
Beat those February winter blues by going to a jewellery store near you and take another look at Amethyst. Discover for yourself why it is called the gem of Royalty.
Until next month !
Karen Howard FCGmA, RMV, CAP(CJA)