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Green Amethyst: Hail to Pale

Green Amethyst: Hail to Pale

A new gamma-greened Brazilian quartz has become the most popular member of the extensive gem family since dusty blue chalcedony took the fashion world by storm some years back. As this newcomer has become a market sensation, dealers and designers have sought to capitalize on its family ties by naming it “green amethyst.”
There’s only one trouble with this trade name. It’s already taken. Well, sort of.

According to gemologist Robert Webster, heated amethyst that turned leek-green was sold as prasiolite in the 1950s. Prase is a long-established color word that refers to green and greenish quartz. Since the new green quartz is produced by irradiating and then heating colorless quartz (rather than amethyst), calling it amethyst is a bit misleading. Just think back to the controversy that erupted when dealers adopted the name of “red emerald” for red beryl from Utah. We think similar nomenclature strife should be prevented from repeating itself whenever possible. But many in the jewelry world have no such qualms.

Whatever the new quartz is called, clearly this sage-green gem has arrived. Already big-name designers like David Yurman and John Atencio are making much ado about this gem, whose whispery hues conjure the pale salad-greens of cucumber wedges and hearts of palm.

How did a stone with nearly desaturated color become the jewelry world’s newest green grosser? The answers to this question will shock traditionalists who think the best gemstone greens are deep luxuriant summer-foliage colors. Don’t get the wrong idea. The lush, plush hues of Colombian emerald and Burmese jadeite will remain the standards of connoisseurship.

Nevertheless, purists would be mistaken to cast cold eyes on the fair-skinned shades of green quartz. The sudden success of this irradiated gem signals the emergence of a new color palette and, with it, the rise of a new design aesthetic. Listen closely to the spin on green quartz. Designers who use it say this gem speaks to women in a way few established gems do. What’s more, it speaks directly to their ever-strengthening spending power and vastly altered wardrobe needs. Here’s why green quartz is riding high and likely to ride higher.

VISIONS OF VERSATILITY

A few months before the 2004 Las Vegas show, a well-known designer approached Cesar Habib of Kaiser Gems in Los Angeles to ask his opinion of a new sage-colored quartz from Brazil. “Since this designer used sizes up to 30 carats, I had to make sure supplies would be plentiful in stones that large,” he says.

A trip to Minais Gerais, Brazil’s famous gem cornucopia and the source of green quartz, convinced Habib that size would be no problem. So he gave the go-ahead. As other designers quickly joined the clamor, green quartz became his biggest seller. It still is. Indeed, Habib thinks it could become as mighty a market mover as irradiated blue topaz.

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Green Amethyst
Green amethyst earrings by Vancox of Brazil.