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Is amethyst a lavender color?


Amethyst is a popular gemstone known for its beautiful purple hue. But there is often confusion around exactly what color amethyst is. Many describe it as a lavender color, while others insist it is more of a true purple. So is amethyst actually a lavender color?

In short, amethyst can range from a light lavender to a deep purple, so it is not specifically one or the other. The lavender color is simply one variety found on the amethyst color spectrum. To understand this more fully, let’s take a closer look at the science behind amethyst’s color and the different color variations that exist.

What Gives Amethyst Its Color?

Amethyst gets its characteristic purple color from trace amounts of iron within the crystal structure of the gemstone. More specifically, it owes its color to ferric iron (Fe3+) impurities. When iron is exposed to high energy radiation, like the radiation present during amethyst formation in the earth, it can lose electrons and become oxidized to the ferric state.

The ferric iron introduced into the amethyst acts as a chromophore, which is a chemical component that absorbs certain wavelengths of light and transmits or reflects others, creating a color effect. The specific wavelengths of light absorbed by ferric iron give amethyst its signature purple tones.

The Amethyst Color Spectrum

While ferric iron is responsible for amethyst’s general purple coloration, the specific concentration of iron present can vary. This affects the light absorption and leads to a wide range of potential colors. The amount of iron as well as the extent of radiation exposure during formation influences the final amethyst color.

Here is an overview of the full spectrum of amethyst color varieties:

Rose de France – This very pale, lavender-pink amethyst has only trace amounts of iron present. The pale color is the result of minimal ferric iron concentrations and thus minimal light absorption.

Lavender Amethyst – With slightly more iron content than Rose de France amethyst, lavender amethysts absorb a bit more blue/violet wavelengths, producing a light purple or lilac color.

Deep Lavender – As iron levels and radiation exposure increase, more violet wavelengths are absorbed, producing the deeper lavender shades.

Medium Purple – These amethysts have moderate iron content and radiation exposure, resulting in a rich, vivid purple color.

Deep Purple – With high concentrations of ferric iron and extensive radiation exposure, deep purple amethyst has intense violet hues nearing black in some stones.

Red-Violet and Purple-Red – Extremely high radiation can alter the iron and cause it to absorb yellow and orange light. This produces rare red-violet amethyst colors.

So in summary, amethyst color can span lavender-pink, light lavender, medium purple, deep purple, and even reddish purple. The lavender varieties sit on the light end of the spectrum.

What Qualifies as Lavender?

When it comes to defining lavender more specifically, there are differing opinions. Generally, lavender refers to a soft, light purple with hints of pink. But the distinction between light purple and lavender is not an exact science.

Some gemologists argue only the very pale purple-pink varieties like Rose de France should qualify as true lavender amethyst. Others are willing to include the light to mid-range shades like lavender and deep lavender under the lavender description.

There are no universal standards establishing the exact boundaries between light purple and lavender. So there is some subjectivity involved in classifying amethyst as either lavender or light purple. The most important thing is that amethyst can display lavender-type hues along with deeper purples.

How Color Affects Amethyst Value

When evaluating amethyst, the depth of color is one of the most important value factors. All else being equal, deeper colored amethyst gems command higher prices than paler stones. The deepest purple amethysts with reddish or blue secondary hues are most prized.

Lavender amethysts are abundant, so they fall on the more affordable end of the spectrum. However, the rare Rose de France amethyst with its exquisite blush tone does garner high valuations. Here is a general overview of how amethyst color affects value:

Amethyst Color Value Level
Rose de France Very High
Lavender Low
Deep Lavender Low to Moderate
Medium Purple Moderate
Deep Purple High
Purple with Red or Blue Secondary Hues Very High

So while the lavender amethysts are not the most valuable, their pleasant pinkish-purple still makes for beautiful, affordable gemstones.

How Lighting Affects Perceived Color

One other factor that can impact amethyst’s apparent color is the type of lighting it is viewed under. Amethyst’s color depends on how the stone absorbs and reflects different wavelengths of visible light. So the color of light illuminating the amethyst affects how its color is perceived.

Under daylight or equivalent neutral white light bulbs, the color seen is generally accurate. But under incandescent bulbs or candle light, the warm yellow tones shift the apparent color towards red-violet. Meanwhile, cool white fluorescent lighting can make purple stones look more blue.

So you need to factor in lighting conditions when assessing if an amethyst is a true lavender color or something deeper or redder. The most neutral light will give you the truest sense of the stone’s natural color.

Notable Lavender Amethyst Examples

To further illustrate the spectrum of lavender amethyst colors, here are some noteworthy specimen examples:

– The Leonara Lace Lavender Amethyst from the Umba Valley in Tanzania has delicate bands of rose, lilac, and violet reminiscent of lace.

– The Lavender Amethyst from the Ray Mine in Arizona are a soft glowing lilac shade.

– The Madagascar Lavender Amethyst has layers of light and medium purple hues.

– The Auralite Amethyst from Thunder Bay, Canada features rare hints of lavender along with deep purple and red.

– The rare Rose de France Amethyst from Antsirabe, Madagascar has an exquisite blush pink lavender color.

Is Amethyst Officially a Birthstone for February?

Amethyst is recognized as the official birthstone for February, along with the purple variety of quartz called ametrine. But some people believe it has not always held this distinction. Up until 1912, amethyst was considered an alternate birthstone for February. So let’s clarify the history.

Traditional Birthstones

The concept of birthstones dates back thousands of years and arose independently across many ancient cultures. These traditional birthstone lists assigned special stones to each month that were thought to have protective powers.

Amethyst was recognized as a traditional birthstone for February back in ancient times. Ancient Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Russian and old Arabic birthstone lists all designated amethyst for February.

Modern Birthstone Lists

In more modern history, jewelers and gemologists have aimed to standardize the birthstone calendar.

In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers released an official birthstone list that, for the first time, formally declared amethyst as the official February birthstone (while still keeping traditional alternate stones emerald and bloodstone).

This 1912 list was adopted by the Jewelry of America trade association in 1952 and remains the standard recognized today in the United States. The United Kingdom also updated their official list in 1952 to recognize amethyst as the sole February birthstone.

So while amethyst was once an alternate February stone, it has been the official February birthstone in the U.S. and Britain for over 100 years now.


While amethyst can display a wide spectrum of purple shades, many of them fall into the soft lavender color range. The exact classification of lavender versus light purple is subjective, but medium to pale purple amethysts are often considered lavender. Amethyst’s beauty and affordability make it a cherished gemstone regardless of whether it is a true lavender or deeper purple. Its standing as the February birthstone further cements amethyst’s popularity. So for those with February birthdays, a lovely amethyst is the perfect way to celebrate with your official birthstone.