The Violet Mines - Brazilian Amethyst and its History

The Violet Mines - Brazilian Amethyst and its History

The Violet Mines - Brazilian Amethyst and its History

Brazil has long reigned as one of the leading producers of amethyst in the world. Amethyst crystals are immensely popular. Today, Brazil effortlessly produces thousands of tons annually while countries in second place rarely hit four digits. In 2016, Brazil nearly made up 66% of all amethyst production. As such, people have no issue getting it, though it was once an extremely rare stone. Even raw amethyst is well loved and always has been.

Of the Brazilian states, Rio Grande do Sul produces the most. Brazil not only produces a lot of amethyst, but many of its specimens are beautiful, too. Brazilian amethyst has a long and fascinating history starting in the early 1800s.

 


 

19th CENTURY – THE EARLY DISCOVERIES AND RISE TO PROMINENCE

Amethyst stones have long been in Europe; it was one of the most well-known gemstones. It saw frequent lapidary use throughout much of human history. Amethyst was described in 1813 by John Mawe. In 1820, a block of amethyst was described in the Asiatic Journal. The specimen in question was a “most singular curiosity,” weighing nearly a hundred pounds and about four feet in circumference but less than a foot tall. By the 1830s, it had become recognized that Brazil was becoming a leading producer of gemstones along with Siberia and Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka). In 1870, it was reported that Brazil, along with some European countries, was one of the primary producers of amethyst. Just eight years later, it was noted that much of the world’s amethyst supply was pouring out of Brazil. Later evaluations described in 1883 claimed that the amethyst of Brazil was “famous.” It was declared as an authentic piece of amethyst by professionals. Gradually throughout the 19th century, Brazil went from a known source of amethyst to being the source of fine amethyst. Brazilian amethyst became the next big thing in the gemstone industry.
Brazilian Amethyst Point

 


 

20th CENTURY – THE AMETHYST MONOPOLY

The 20th century saw some new developments for amethyst. In the beginning, it was apparent for how long and for what reasons Germany had been involved in Brazil. Many settlers, explorers, and eager entrepreneurs from Idar-Oberstein (which had its own impressive amethyst veins) were beginning to set up shop in Brazil. They would then mine and ship amethyst back to Idar-Oberstein so lapidaries could cut them. This had likely been going on for some time already, but more and more localities were discovered as the decades passed. Throughout the 20th century, more localities were found. In 1920, a locality in Iraí was found by revolutionaries as they were hiding along the banks of the Uruguay River. German explorers, still busy in Brazil, found amethyst in Santa Maria and negotiated with local landowners to mine the area. It has only been used infrequently as a source of amethyst, however. In 1981, a locality was uncovered in Alto Bonito. They were disregarded for their low quality, but Manuel Xavier, a prospector from Bahia, decided to mine the area anyway a year later. While many localities were found before the 19th century, there were still some undiscovered gems in Brazil.
Amethyst Tumbled from Brazil

 


 

21st CENTURY – WHAT OF TODAY?

Today, Brazil remains the leading producer of amethyst in the world. Though they are far from tying with Brazil, the contenders include Uruguay, Zambia, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Canada and Mexico are also known to produce relatively limited quantities of amethyst. Historically, Russia has been known to produce large amounts of amethyst too. For the foreseeable future, Brazil will remain the king of amethyst production in the global market and gem industry.

 

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Sources

“Amethyst | Birthstones | Gems | Geology & Soils | Online Resources | School of Natural Resources | University of Nebraska–Lincol.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln, snr.unl.edu/data/geologysoils/birthstones/amethyst.aspx. Accessed 25 May 2021.

The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany. United Kingdom, Wm. H. Allen & Company, 1820.

Epstein, David Stanley. “Amethyst Mining in Brazil.” Gems & Gemology, vol. 24, no. 4, 1988, pp. 214–28. Crossref, doi:10.5741/gems.24.4.214.

Feuchtwanger, Lewis. A Treatise on Gems: In Reference to Their Practical and Scientific Value. United Kingdom, A. Hanford, 1838.

The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review. United States, Jewelers' Circular Publishing Company, 1902.

Mawe, John. A Treatise on Diamonds and precious stones; including their history, natural and commercial. To which is added some account of the best methods of cutting and polishing them. United Kingdom, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1813.

Routledge's Every Boy's Annual. United Kingdom, George Routledge & Sons, 1870.

Townshend, Chaucey Hare, and Church, Arthur Herbert. Precious Stones Considered in Their Scietific and Artistic Relations: With a Catalogue of the Townshend Collection of Gems in the South Kensington Museum. United Kingdom, Chapman and Hall, limited, 1883.

The Western Review of Science and Industry. United States, Journal of Commerce Printing and Publishing House, 1878.

Yager, Thomas. “TRENDS IN WORLD COLORED GEMSTONE PRODUCTION, 2006–2016.” Gems & Geology, vol. 54, no. 3, 2018, pp. 325–26, www.gia.edu/doc/Fall-2018-Gems-Gemology.pdf.

 




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