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Red Amethyst????

Posted by Kristi Hugs  
Red Amethyst????
January 27, 2007 08:36PM
There is a man on Ebay who is selling Red Amethyst ( www.redamethyst.com ) and to be honest, it looks extremely fake to me? First of all, as we have discussed here many times, to name something Amethyst when it is not lilac/purple in color is like an oxymoron, right? You name something Amethyst because of the color it is associated with?

Second...some of the pieces look almost painted. But could it be hematite or iron inclusions? if so, shouldnt he just say that?

So, either I am understandably confused and ignorant, or this is a fraud. What do you think?

thanks!!
kristi
Re: Red Amethyst????
January 27, 2007 10:34PM
dear Kristi;
Have you hit on a BUNCH of points; maybe I can help.
1st, the piece is "sorta" natural; but, several things have happened to make the piece a little unbelievable. Most Thunder Bay amethyst has various degrees of hematite inclusion on the outer skin of the xls, some of the hematite xls are only partially covered (that becomes important in a bit). The color can range from brilliant red to vermillion to sepia. Usually, when the amethysts are thatheavily included, the vugs they were in are also filled w/a nasty red-brown mud that's VERY hard to remove (if you use oxalic acid, the traditional approach), especially if there's intermixed barite in it. That addition can make complete removal nearly impossible. Sometimes, to speed the process, collectors use an enclosed acid-proof container that can withstand mild heating, gently heat the specimen in the acid & it'll remove very tough stains & mud. This is NOT recommended to the average collector & pretty dangerous even for the experienced individual. Here's where #2 comes in.
Second, I believe this person used concentrated hydrochloric acid, straight or 50 - 50 mix of oxalic & hydrochloric, which means he came even closer to a boil., & HEATED it in said container. This caused some of the exposed hematites at the base of the xls to turn a bright yellow; something that could have been avoided. I'ld say he heated this to near boiling, which tends to turn the fully included hematite to the reddest it can turn, much like the Indians used to do (throw earthy hematite into a fire) to make the brilliant red pigment for paint (you DID say they looked PAINTed, didn't you?).
Lastly, I believe someone used a LOT of added contrast & added color to enhance the pics. These ARE on a computer!
Since I know of no name for such hematite included quartz & there is amethyst under it, I'm afraid this term is the best the common person would come up with that describes such material. It's not an official thing & will only be known as this to people into lapidary & the average hobbist; at least it's not as bad as "red emerald"! I can live with this.
Your friend, Steve
Re: Red Amethyst????
January 27, 2007 10:40PM
Thanks Steve! I am constantly on a quest for knowledge and your explanation certainly helped :) I did read quite a few of the comments made on his page and many expressed that the actual piece was not half as brilliant as the pics on his site, so that definitely lends credence to some color enhancing :)

Thank you again :) I truly appreciate the help :)
Re: Red Amethyst????
January 27, 2007 11:11PM
Hi, Kristi;
I didn't realized you were on-line! Thanx for you understanding!
Steve
Re: Red Amethyst????
January 29, 2007 10:21AM
    
do a search on the database here about Thunder Bay Amethyst, you'll find many of them nice red ones. I admit that I have some difficulties to imagine people such as Rob Lavinsky or John Betts selling acidified/cooked stuff, really.

Nature has no limits. How many time when I showed up some aqua or topaz cristals people thought they were faceted by man. It looked too perfectly made for them to be the work of nature and were flabbergasted when assuring them that human being has nothing to do with it.
So why this colour could not be of fully natural origin ?

I have one of these red amethyst (and green one as well) and it looks nice. THe red color on mine has a slight rusty tone, covering the whole termination (not paint but heatite inclusions). Underneath is full purple amethyst color.
avatar Re: Red Amethyst????
January 31, 2007 02:46AM
Hi everyone,

I am always on the lookout for fake minerals, so I can assure you, Thunder Bay Quartz crystals do exhibit a purple colored core crystal with super bright red inclusions under a thin layer of Quartz. The seller in question, www.redamethyst.com , is a fine dealer and an actual field collector of this material. The odd thing about this is that several people besides the ones on this message board have expressed their concerns about this material as well.

Seriously.

Justin
Re: Red Amethyst????
January 31, 2007 02:56AM
thanks Steven, Justin and all--
I appreciate the info and the verification. I think it may well be that the pictures of these pieces on his ebay site look so bright that it appears the pics have been futzed with in some way to make the contrast stand out more maybe? I do know that as I read some of his feedback that a few folks suggested the actual piece was not as brilliant as the pic, so that could be why there are some questions.

If i am not sure, I most definitely get clarification first. And mindat is where I come :) Thanks for taking the time to reply!!
Re: Red Amethyst????
January 31, 2007 03:24PM
To Aymeric & Justin;
Yes, the red is natural, WITHOUT cooking; just not THAT red or ANY yellow, which I believe you missed at the bottom edges of those xls. Also, if you want to know, almost ALL you're quartz xls from almost anywhere where iron & manganese hydroxides are found have been acid cleaned, one way or another. You have vugs that are clear (the lighter red & darker intense reds he displays) & vugs that are filled to the brim w/nasty STICKY red mud, which is impossible to totally remove by simple mechanical methods. I have MANY of such specimens, as I LIKE most original pieces, as reference. Most people DON'T, which is why he AND I (& thousands of other collectors & dealers) have to do this procedure. That yellow staining, though, comes ONLY from the acid cleaning when NOT rinsed properly IMMEDIATELY after each specimen is removed from the "cooker". I won't say how I do it to remove the stain quickly in bulk; but, either method MUST be used (especially if calcite or some barium mineral was present; read his description of associated minerals) or the yellow staining WILL be there to tell on the dealer. Anyone who has acid cleaned Arkansas quartzes will attest to this.
Your friend, Steve
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 01, 2007 02:26AM
If a dealer sells you an acid-cleaned crystal that has a bright yellow stain left in the cracks, the cleaning wasn't done properly. You have to do a final long, long soak in an acid that complexes the iron and leaves the last tiny traces of it colorless. There are several possible media - I personally prefer citric acid, easily and cheaply available in pure crystal form.
Cheers,
Alfredo
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 01, 2007 09:15AM
Hi Alfredo;
Well, seeing as you're letting a cat out of the bag, I might as well going further. That IS a good "fixer' & I've used it myself; it's SAFE! But, I've found something better, cheaper, & I make it myself, using chill refining to step up it's natural strength; acetic acid (VINEGAR!). it's near harmless; heated, it stays safe & works within an hr., & the heated specimen drys RAPIDLY, making it stock-ready in 5 minutes after removing from that rinse. Another proces I use prevents the included hemeatite from "redding"; so the specimens stay the natural color.
Did anyone notice that the dealer never said he DIDN'T clean these pieces? he's staying honest in not mentioning it; but, not denying it, either. If you ask, he might be forthcoming about it; but, bcs most people get "freaked" (you KILLED the spirit of the xl!) when they learned you used ACID on them (while holding thousands of Arkansas points!), it's usually not stated upfront. Those in the know already understand this & don't mind it.
Steve
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 03, 2007 10:18PM
Hey there, I was actually at this seller’s site and before deciding to buy I decided I should try and google "red amethyst" before making a purchase, and my first stop was here, the word fraud is a bit catchy. From reading all of your posts I find comfort in the fact that only a few decided to make sensationalist comments to add intrigue. Where as the majority actually took a logical standpoint and questioned the facts. Kristi, funny that you should say that many were disappointed with the coloration of these specimens, when I viewed the sellers feedback, it shows that the seller has over 1600 positive feedbacks, compared to about 16 negatives, and as an ebayer my self I would assume that this suggests that in the grander scheme of things many were actually happy with their specimens and a rare few, actually less than 1% were dissatisfied, of which the majority were complaining about shipping problems.

I am not sure if anyone else decided the best thing to do was to email the seller to get more information.

Well I emailed the seller and he was very forth coming and friendly in answering some of the questions posted on this board. I was expecting metaphysical dealer type answers to these questions but I was very surprised that he is actually quite astute to the science of amethyst.
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 03, 2007 10:22PM
Q. Do you photo enhance your pieces for ebay, as there are a few comments on your feedback that suggest that the color of your pieces isn’t a fair representation of their actuality.

A. Michael, here is a step by step description of how I photograph the amethyst on my site.

The lighting I use to photograph the pieces is a combination of tungsten halogen lights and another set of lights that are referred to as 12 noon daylight light bulbs. These are my favorites as they are what is suggested for product photography by many professionals and produce a very sharp and accurate result.

I use a Nikon coolpix 995 model camera, which is suggested by dentists for macro photography. I set the camera to maximum image sharpening, macro mode, and I use the manual white balance based on a sheet of printer paper.

Finally I use Photoshop to crop the images; sometimes I have to remove dust and bits of rock on the background using a filter. Occasionally I will have to use another filter to remove glare, but this is rarely done. Other than that there is no alteration to the photos and no color enhancement.
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 03, 2007 10:24PM
To answer your question exactly about the buyers who seemed to be disappointed about the color of the specimens, what I assume was the cause is that some buyers don’t understand that photographic bulbs produce a different result than a standard 100 watt household light, what I usually suggest for many collectors as what many dealers do, is to use tungsten halogens for their collection displays. If these aren’t in their price range go for 12 noon bulbs, about 12.00 for 2, and diffuse them a bit. When you go into jewelry store to buy a ring, there are floods of light ever where, is this deceiving or does extra lighting actually allow for a better view of the product. So if using suggested product photography bulbs is deceiving than I would have to say that nearly every company in print and internet sales and promotions is guilty of this as well
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 03, 2007 10:28PM
ctd....

Q. Why call your amethyst red amethyst, aren’t they actually amethyst with hematite or iron, and doesn’t amethyst by definition of the word mean purple making red amethyst an oxymoron? A few say that calling amethyst red is a fraud.

A. I love this question, a quick Google search will reveal that the word amethyst originates from the Greek, while there is some discrepancy over which word it was derived from Amethysts, Amethustos ect…. amethyst came from the ancient Greek describing the metaphysical properties of the gemstone both words having similar meanings of sobriety. The earliest color association of the word amethyst was with wine, which in some instances has a very deep reddish and almost purple coloration. In modern vocabulary amethyst was associated to various hues of purple, because the majority of amethysts were a purple coloration so it became common to call a certain variety of purple amethyst to distinguish it from others. Much like how you would call a certain hue of yellow canary yellow. So while we are on the topic of literary devices oxymoron the correct one for defining the relationship between amethyst and color would be a simile where the associated meaning of one word in this case, amethyst (which is usually connotative of a range of purple hues) is used to describe another, respectively the color purple, so the more appropriate use of amethyst would be purple like amethyst.
To go further with you question as to whether red amethyst is in actuality hematite or iron included amethyst I offer this. Yes the majority of amethyst that is red is either coated or has inclusions of hematite, iron and in some rare instances as I have been told molten. In even rarer instances I have come across amethyst that is a solid red coloration through and through, and produces this same coloration when faceted.

What I think is lacking is a complete understanding of how gemstones and minerals are colored. In essence gemstones are minerals that achieve coloration from impurities. Take a ruby for instance, which is the mineral corundum with the added impurity of chromium, where the visible photon is excited directly by the impurity causing the wonderful coloration of red appearing in a ruby. Amethyst much like ruby achieves it’s coloration from an impurity, although instead of the visible photon being excited directly by the impurity the visible photon in amethyst is excited by an unstable species commonly called a color center which results from the unstable species caused by iron impurity absorbing the visible photon causing an excited state and hence coloration.

With this basic understanding of how gemstones and crystals are colored there is a lot more detail could it not be said that the exact scientific terminology of gemstones are as follows;

Red Ruby = corundum with chromium impurities
Blue Sapphire = corundum with titanium and iron impurities
Pink Tourmaline = tourmaline with magnese impurity
Amethyst = quartz with iron impurities
Black Amethyst = Quartz with nickel and iron impurities
Yellow topaz = topaz with iron impurities

So in actuality red amethyst is amethyst made red in the tips from exceedingly high levels of iron which crystallize into hematite, causing a red color center. Does this not entitle this form of amethyst to be given the observational term of being red amethyst. Much like how you would describe a topaz that appears yellow from iron impurities, or how about the wide array of fluorites in pink, green, blue ect..

So yes I could call these forms of amethyst hematite amethyst, or amethyst reddened by extreme iron impurities. But I have chosen not to, impart based on marketing and mainly because I feel that the title red amethyst best describes the pieces which are naturally red and are amethyst. I do of course understand the plight of the of the science orientated collector, and I have received a few emails of this tone, but if you know that the redness is caused by high saturations of iron during development why do you need the clarification of exacting scientific titles. Yes I do agree that the science of mineralogy is an essential aspect, but this much like in all areas of consumerism is subject to the vendor discretion as to what suits their consumer base the best. Has any one ever heard of cocoa butter var. Phenylephrine HCI, var. Shark Liver oil, probably not as it is given a common trade name to appeal to their consumer base and make for ease of advertisement and recognition of what it is.
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 03, 2007 10:29PM
ctd... last time

Q) Do you heighten the coloration of the crystals through the use of cleaning compounds and heat?

A. By now I have read the post where all these questions are coming from, so what ever I haven’t answered yet I will answer here, and thank you Michael for offering to post this reply. I guess I will address this to the poster; Mr. Garza, you are very right in mentioning the dangers of heating stronger acid compounds and I neither use or condone this method by any means, as hydrochloric and its stronger neighbor hydrophloric acid can cause server damage to lungs when heated, even in highly ventilated areas. So unlike the Indians, or Native American/Canadians as they preferred to be called, you mentioned, I do not heat blast the amethyst to falsify the coloration, and hence paint the amethyst as your brilliant play on words would suggest. With regards to the infrequent yellowing at the base of the crystals, I must admit that on the occasion I miss a few spots and a bit of iron gets left behind. Lastly Mr. Garza, your interpretation of me as a common person goes in context with the rest of your presumptions, and I will happily let you know that at the age of 27, I am assured that I have far surpassed your level of formal education.

To every one else thank you for taking the time to read these post and for being concerned consumers, of this is what makes our continent great. And thank you most for avoiding ill informed presumptions and for questioning them.

Best of wishes,
Aaron
avatar Re: Red Amethyst????
February 04, 2007 12:38AM
    
Hello Aaron, and others,
I think what Steve was commenting on is the fact that most mineral specimens do not come out of the ground looking like the finished product of what you’re buying or selling, as a field collector myself I know this too. Most quartz comes out of the ground with oxide coatings; these are removed by acid baths in most cases. It was a friendly discussion until an insult on education was introduced. I’m sure that most of the people here on Mindat agree that such character remarks should be left off board.

Off to work on my rocks
Everett
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 04, 2007 01:10AM
Thank you all for a lovely discussion on my question. I do need to point out that my question was not posted to start a major drama. I simply wanted to know, as did some of my customers. They came to me asking these questions and since I did not have an accurate answer, I came here first, as this is the best source for me to get the best information from a variety of folks. You all also explain in a way that understands I am not a brain/scientist/geologist/mineralogist type person :)

My next step, after getting some basic information was to go to the seller and ask the questions. But I like to be prepared first so not to look like the dork I can sometimes be :) Thank you Micheal for doing my leg work for me :)

Also with all the ebayers out there that are deceiving folks, better be safe than sorry and have all my ducks in a row, right?

So do not diss Steve who took a great deal of time explaining to me about cleaning crystal (with the patience of a saint, I might add).

I am grateful for everyone who answered and shared information. It's all good, no insults required :)

Kristi
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 05, 2007 03:47PM
Aaron;
1st, I mentioned NOTHING about your education level or accreditation, though I find mention of the hydroFluoric interesting.
2nd, the phrase "With regards to the infrequent yellowing at the base of the crystals, I must admit that on the occasion I miss a few spots and a bit of iron gets left behind" means you are using acid, maybe straight super-concentrated oxalic acid mix. If you are heating it more than 100 degrees F, the acid will change that hematite (found this through sad experience using a ceramic crock pot set on low for only 2 hrs). Oxalis tends to facilitated further hematite oxidation, lowering the conversion temp substantially. Even amethysts without apparent Fe inclusions can be effected thus. I turned an excellent batch of amethystine clustered quartzes into citrinish crud, again, in about 2 hrs.; however, the 1/2" of "limonite & wad" WAS removed. Going back to room temp processing prevented this. This also means that "heat-blasting" can occur UNintentionally, if the piece is completely buried in the Fe junk.
3rd, I DO use that 50- 50 mix, outdoors & far from the house, in a ceramic crockpot on mostly uncolored or colored by other than Fe compounds quartzes; opening the pot from upwind on steady breeze days & handling with high-temp plastic tongs.
4th, I also use Adobe photoshop, but, I use it strictly to correct what I'm viewing to match the true specimen, putting both side-by-side. For me, lighting & photoreceptor response WILL be compensated for; the pic & specimen match or I don't send it.
Lastly, even the most uncomon people use common methods; this doesn't change the person.
Steven
D E Russell
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 05, 2007 06:29PM
Mr. Koeppl:

I do not quite understand your use of the term "molten" in the context you used it above. I'm not fussing over the use of the term... I'm just trying to better understand what you mean. ("Yes the majority of amethyst that is red is either coated or has inclusions of hematite, iron and in some rare instances as I have been told molten")

_______________

I had the opportunity to examine the Thunder Bay amethyst inclusions back in the 70's. They were actually quite intriguing. I recall two prevalent types: the first was acicular sprays of goethite (which many of the folks involved in mining the stuff insisted was cacoxenite - so keep an eye on old labels for errors.) The second was circular, almost 2-dimensional patches of red iron oxides. The later (in the instances I saw) tended to form a discrete layer, as if someone had spritzed some spray paint on the specimen. Either oxide was then encased in an extremely thin layer of colorless quartz. It would appear that towards the end of the crystal growth cycle there was a significant change in the solution chemistry causing the dissolved iron to drop out as oxides.

It would be fun to see how specimens from 30 years ago compare to what's being taken from the ground today, after mining has progressed spatially in the region. It would certainly make a fun project for ungrad students (hint, hint).
Re: Red Amethyst????
February 05, 2007 07:04PM
Steven,

I apologize for getting a bit touchy, and I took the term common person out of context, so please accecpt my apologies.

Definately you use a more concentrated solution than I do, I have a blend of 4 acids specifically mixed for me, this gentleman thta I deal with is wonderful he will create any blend of chemicals that you request, with professional guidance in small quantities for a very reasonable price. If any one would like I will happily forward his contact details, as in most instances aluminum cleaners which are not even readily available in canada especially dont completely do the job. I believe that my mix has about 17% hydrocloric, I have tried about 50 combinations and the one I use now is by far the best. I generally clean about 10,000 specimens a year so some of the smaller less asthetic pieces do not get the same detail, hence the yellowing, from unremoved iron oxides.

I dont heat at all, not because I was aware of the potential changes in color but primarily because of health risks.

What I do do though that is very important to steralize the acid is to prepare a baking soda bath for then they are removed to neutralize the acid, otherwise there will always be reisidue.

What I would be very interested in information wise is a compound that will remove barite, the ugly pink kind as I have many very fine pieces that are coated in this barite making them incredibly unattractive. Any info and I would happily send some one some free amethyst for the info.

Aaron
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