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Quartz is the most plentiful mineral, and amethyst is purple quartz. Even amethyst of the dark purple colour we have come to know as ‘Siberian’ is plentiful now, as more sources are discovered. Back in the 17th century, it was reckoned as valuable as diamond.
For the past two centuries, the finest amethyst has been sourced in Brazil and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Though the very dark purple gem quality amethyst is referred to as Siberian, this source has never produced consistently high quality dark gemstone.
Siberian amethyst is found in the Ural Mountains, with deposits outside the town of Mursinsk near the city of Ekaterinburg. Amethyst has been mined in this area since at least the 18th century and probably earlier. Sampling amethyst from mines active in this area in the 1830s, Gustav Rose, geologist with the famous Humboldt expedition (1837-1842) makes the following comment. “The Mursinsk amethyst at times is very dark violet-blue surpassing that from Ceylon but mostly it is pale violet-blue (purple) or spotted and striped (zoned).” (Text: The Gemwise Blog)
Two examples follow, of jewelry made in Russia with deep purple Siberian amethyst mined in the Ural Mountains. This is the genuine article – named for its source and not just the beautiful dark purple colour.
Art Nouveau Siberian Amethyst Demantoid Gold Pendant
The spirals of grape vine and graceful leaves mark this flowing design as Art Nouveau from the era when this design style swept Europe in the early years of the 20th century. The deep purple amethyst is beautifully complemented by the delicate apple green of the demantoid garnets.
Made between 1908 and 1917, an antique Russian gold pendant is designed in Art Nouveau taste as a stylized grape vine with finely modeled green gold grape leaves. The pendant features a rare Siberian amethyst and five green demantoid garnets.
The amethyst measures 15.4 x 14 x 11.3 mm, approximately 12.91 ct.
Depending on type of light, the amethyst appears with more purple or more pink tones (watch video).
The pendant is marked on bail with 56 zolotnik Imperial gold standard and maker’s initials.
Total length with bail is 66 mm (2 9/16 in.)
(Text and image: Romanov Russia)
Another Siberian amethyst on the next page