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When in 1981 the gem trade got wind that ametrine, a combination of amethyst and citrine, could be created from amethyst in the lab by heating and irradiation, the warm welcome it had given this two-tone gem a year earlier became a cold shoulder.

The swift reversal of fortune for this two-tone purple and yellow quartz, and the drop in its price to levels almost equal to regular amethyst now seems unfair. Especially when the trade discovered that most, if not all, ametrine on the market is all natural, from an unusual mine in Bolivia.

Now this two-in-one quartz is staging a comeback, in part because it is championed by some famous gem sculptors, including Germany’s Bernd Munsteiner.

Unlike bi-colored tourmaline, which often combines popular green with equally popular red, ametrine combines popular purple with less popular brown and yellow. To make things worse, at the time ametrine was introduced, citrine had little of the popularity it enjoyed in the 1930s and 1940s or has since begun to enjoy again.

On top of this, demand for citrine was then narrowly focused on its deep brownish- and reddish-orange cognac colors. The gem’s lighter-toned yellows and golds were not nearly as appreciated as they are today. Since these latter hues were mostly what one saw in ametrine, the stone struck many jewelers as bland. So even without the taint of treatment, ametrine might well have bombed.

But its lack of prestige means that ametrine is the most affordable bicolor gemstone. It also means that the gem is an affordable medium for gem scuptors to work in, using the different color areas to add another dimension to their work.

Perhaps what ametrine needs to arouse interest from collectors is cutting as novel as its appearance. In some cases, carvings can show not only yellow and purple but also a warm peach where the two colors blend.

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