Moroccan Amethyst is a rare, velvety purple gemstone, with highly desirable blue and cranberry flashes, from Morocco’s remote Anti-Atlas Mountains. Reminiscent of the now historic Siberian Amethyst, Moroccan Amethyst is not only incredibly beautiful, but also a mine-to-market gemstone that is environmentally and ethically mined and cut.
Found on every continent in varying degrees, Amethyst quality differs depending on origin. Moroccan Amethyst has an even, velvety purple color, reminiscent of the now historic Siberian Amethyst. They also display blue flashes, similar to some Brazilian and Zambian Amethyst, as well as cranberry red flashes caused by microscopic hematite needle inclusions, a gemological feature unique to Moroccan Amethyst. Blue and red facet flashes are highly desirable in Amethyst and a key quality consideration, along with a rich velvety hue, good brilliance, and attractive luster.
The raw crystals are cut at a dedicated and totally compliant lapidary located in the famous Indian gem city of Jaipur. Maintaining a high ethical standard and social responsibility, many of the lapidaries were previously unskilled, unemployed women who were provided training and a profession. Moroccan Amethysts’ unique beauty is accentuated by optimal lapidary and an eye-clean clarity, the highest quality clarity grade for colored gemstones.
February’s birthstone, Amethyst was set into gold rings as early as 2500 BC and is a gemstone rich in myth, legend, and lore. Colored by trace amounts of iron, Amethyst is a variety of macrocrystalline (large crystal) Quartz that comes in pastel roses to deep purples. Derived from the Greek ‘amethustos’, which means ‘not drunk’, Amethyst is mythologically associated with Dionysus (Bacchus), the Greek god of wine, and was once fashioned into talismans and goblets to prevent intoxication. If you fill an Amethyst goblet with water, it does look a lot like wine, so perhaps this legend has a grain of truth after all. Long before Roman emperors donned the bright purple ‘toga picta’, pharaohs, kings and queens made purple a potent symbol of sovereignty. From the signet of Cleopatra, an Amethyst engraved with a figure of Bacchus, to the Amethyst necklace of Queen Charlotte, wife of George III of England, Amethyst will forever be linked to fashion, prestige, and power.
About 40 years ago, a group of nomadic goat herders were stuck in a storm in the remote Anti-Atlas mountain range (Adrar Tirecht Bou Oudi Mountain, Tata Province, Souss-Massa Region) of southern Morocco. The next morning, they found purple crystals on the washed ground and started bringing them to tourist shops in the villages nearby. Seven years ago, a geologist finally had the gems analyzed by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and confirmed that they are indeed Amethyst.
Mining started in 2011 near the village of Tata, and has continued on a small scale since then. From 2011 to 2015, the miners mainly used hand tools to remove the earth and extract the crystals. As the wall was pushed further back, excavators have been used since 2015, but the miners are still hand picking crystals out of the removed earth. The Amethyst market is extremely competitive and initially, selling these unique Amethysts proved more challenging than their mining. In 2013, the miners brought their gems to the Tucson Gem Show, returning deflated by the feedback: large lapidaries saw little value in these amazing Amethysts. Luckily, the miners connected with Glenn Lehrer, a world-renowned gem carver and master cutter with over 40 years’ experience. Glenn quickly saw the unique potential of Moroccan Amethyst, taking it in a completely different direction.
Moroccan Amethyst is not just another Amethyst, but a unique mine-to-market gemstone that is ethically and environmentally mined and cut. The mine is actively involved in community building in the area and only hires local Berbers to work the mine, offering them a good salary and health care; prior they were mainly camel and goat herders. In the past several years, production has been stable with the mining crew limited to around 20 people. Wells, roads, electricity, and designated vehicles for schoolchildren and villagers are all provided using profits from the Amethyst mine. In 2016, the mine received an award from the Moroccan government to highlight its contributions to social responsibility and gem mining in Morocco.
With over 90 percent of gemstones enhanced, and many Amethysts’ heated to lighter or darken their hue, Moroccan Amethyst is one of the few gemstones that are totally natural and untreated.
Durability & Care
Moroccan Amethyst is a durable gemstone (Mohs’ Hardness: 7) well-suited to everyday wear. Always store Moroccan Amethyst carefully to avoid scuffs and scratches. Clean with gentle soap and lukewarm water, scrubbing behind the gem with a very soft toothbrush as necessary. After cleaning, pat dry with a soft towel or chamois cloth.