Home Knowledges 7 Reasons Why Amethyst Turns Brown: The Secret of Color Change

7 Reasons Why Amethyst Turns Brown: The Secret of Color Change

by Madonna

Amethyst, known for its exquisite purple hues, has enchanted humans for centuries. However, if you’ve noticed your amethyst gem or jewelry transitioning from its signature regal purple to a less desirable brownish hue, you might be wondering what’s causing this color change. In this article, we will delve into the world of amethyst and explore the various factors that can lead to its intriguing color transformation. From natural processes to environmental influences, we’ll uncover the mysteries behind amethyst turning brown and offer insights on how to maintain its vibrant purple charm.

The Allure of Amethyst

Amethyst, a violet variety of quartz, has been cherished for its captivating color since ancient times. Its name is derived from the Greek word “amethystos,” which means “not intoxicated.” Legend has it that wearing amethyst or using amethyst vessels could prevent drunkenness. The gem is treasured for its range of purple shades, from pale lilac to deep violet, making it an alluring choice for jewelry, ornaments, and spiritual practices.


Understanding Amethyst’s Color

Amethyst’s captivating purple color is primarily attributed to the presence of trace elements of iron and aluminum in its crystal structure. The specific oxidation states of these elements give rise to different shades of purple within the gemstone.


1. Iron:


The iron content in amethyst is responsible for its purple hues. The presence of Fe³⁺ ions, often due to natural irradiation processes, leads to the attractive violet and purple colors observed in amethyst.

2. Aluminum:

Aluminum can also influence the color of amethyst, but it does so to a lesser extent compared to iron. Its presence can create variations in tone and saturation within the purple spectrum.

Why Amethyst Turns Brown: Causes and Factors?

Amethyst’s transformation from its pristine purple to brown hues can be attributed to various factors, both natural and environmental. Let’s explore some of the primary reasons behind this intriguing color change:

1. Heat Treatment

One of the most common causes of amethyst turning brown is exposure to high temperatures. Heat treatment, often used to enhance the color of other gemstones, can have adverse effects on amethyst. When amethyst is heated, it may lose its purple color and become brown or yellowish. This transformation is typically irreversible.

2. Irradiation

Natural irradiation processes can affect the color of amethyst. Over time, exposure to radiation, whether from the Earth’s natural background radiation or other sources, can alter the oxidation states of iron in amethyst, leading to color shifts. This can result in the purple fading and the gem taking on a brownish hue.

3. Sunlight and UV Exposure

Amethyst is sensitive to prolonged exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays can contribute to the fading of the gem’s color over time. If an amethyst is frequently worn in direct sunlight or exposed to UV sources, it may gradually lose its vibrant purple and exhibit a brownish tint.

4. Inclusions and Flaws

The presence of certain inclusions or flaws in an amethyst gem can impact its color. Internal fractures or inclusions may scatter and absorb light in a way that affects the gem’s overall appearance, potentially causing it to appear brownish or less vibrant.

5. Thermal Shock

Amethyst, like many gemstones, can be sensitive to sudden temperature changes. Exposing the gem to rapid shifts in temperature, such as moving from extreme heat to cold water, can lead to thermal shock, which may alter the gem’s color.

6. Chemical Exposure

Exposure to chemicals and pollutants can affect amethyst’s color. Harsh chemicals found in cleaning agents, cosmetics, and even perspiration can lead to surface damage and discoloration over time.

7. Natural Variability

It’s important to note that some color variation is natural within the amethyst gemstone itself. Not all amethyst specimens exhibit the same shade of purple, and some may naturally contain variations in color, including brownish tints.

Preserving the Purple: Tips for Preventing Amethyst Color Change

To maintain the vivid purple charm of your amethyst gemstones and jewelry, consider the following tips:

1. Avoid Heat Exposure

Protect amethyst from exposure to high temperatures, such as those used in jewelry repair processes. Additionally, avoid heat treatment, which can alter its color.

2. Limit Sunlight and UV Exposure

Store your amethyst jewelry away from direct sunlight and UV sources. Prolonged exposure to these elements can lead to color fading.

3. Gentle Cleaning

When cleaning amethyst jewelry, use mild soap and lukewarm water. Avoid harsh chemicals and ultrasonic cleaners, which can damage the gem’s surface.

4. Prevent Thermal Shock

Avoid exposing amethyst to rapid temperature changes, as this can lead to thermal shock. Gradually acclimate the gem to temperature variations.

5. Store Properly

Store amethyst jewelry in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Keep it protected in a jewelry box or pouch when not in use.

6. Seek Professional Advice

If you have concerns about the color of your amethyst or wish to determine its authenticity, consult a professional gemologist. They can provide insights and conduct tests to assess the gem’s condition.

Conclusion: Preserving the Beauty of Amethyst

Amethyst’s allure lies in its captivating purple hues, but it can undergo intriguing color changes due to various natural and environmental factors. To keep your amethyst gems and jewelry looking their best, follow the tips mentioned above and handle them with care. By understanding the potential causes of color change and taking preventive measures, you can ensure that your amethyst continues to shine in all its purple splendor, preserving its timeless charm for generations to come.

FAQs About Amethyst

1. How can I clean my amethyst jewelry without causing it to turn brown?

To clean amethyst jewelry, use a mild soap and lukewarm water. Avoid harsh chemicals and ultrasonic cleaners, as they can damage the gem’s surface. Gently scrub the gem with a soft brush and pat it dry with a clean, soft cloth.

2. Can all amethyst gemstones turn brown over time?

Not all amethyst gemstones will turn brown over time. Some amethyst specimens naturally contain variations in color, including brownish tints. Additionally, the likelihood of color change can depend on the gem’s origin, the presence of inclusions, and exposure to environmental factors.

3. Can a professional gemologist help with brown amethyst?

Yes, a professional gemologist can provide insights into the cause of color change in amethyst and offer guidance on potential treatments or restoration options. If you’re concerned about the condition of your amethyst, consulting a gemologist is a valuable step.

4. How much does amethyst cost?

The cost of amethyst varies depending on factors like size, quality, and origin. Small amethyst stones can be quite affordable, starting at a few dollars per carat. Higher-quality amethyst with deep, vibrant purple color and minimal inclusions can range from $10 to $50 per carat. Exceptional amethyst specimens, especially larger ones or those with unique characteristics, can command higher prices, reaching well above $100 per carat.


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