You may think of Amethysts when asked to recall purple gemstones, but did you know many other gemstones are also available in purple?
Agate – Agates are often found in affordable sterling silver or costume jewelry. Purple agate occurs naturally, but can also be dyed. The color ranges from pale lavender to deep violet. It is also often found in banded varieties with other colors mixed in. It mostly comes from Botswana and Brazil. Agate is quite durable.
Alexandrite – A rare and valuable stone, natural alexandrite has color change properties. In its natural form, the color shifts from bluish green to red or reddish purple depending on the light source. Alexandrites are more readily available in synthetic stones, which are much more affordable. Natural stones are rarely found in sizes over 1 carat. Alexandrite is one of June’s birthstones.
Amethyst – Amethysts are the most common purple gemstone available. Very affordable, these stones range from pale lavender to deep reddish purple. The most valuable stones will be deep purple with flashes of red. Amethysts are February’s birthstone and a favorite for purple gemstones.
Apatite – while normally found in green and blue-green varieties, it does occasionally form in purple. The color ranges from a pale lavender to a bright violet. Apatite is a semi-opaque stone that can be cut into cabochons or faceted stones.
Chalcedony – Purple Chalcedony is also known as grape agate due to its grape-cluster like natural formation. It is an opaque stone that ranges from icy lavender to pale bluish violet. It can be confused with purple jade. Chalcedony is often carved into beautiful designs such as flowers.
Charoite – A lovely purple and white stone found in Russia, charoite is inexpensive and has a distinct look. It is often found carved into beads or cabochon gems. Technically, this stone is classified as a rock, but it is composed almost entirely of the mineral, charoite. Found exclusively in Russia, it is also used to carve figurines, cups, vases and bookends. The color is typically a deep purple.
Fluorite – Fluorite comes in a variety of colors with purple being one of the rarer shades. The color is typically a deep purple. Fluorite is a soft stone that is subject to breakage. It is best worn in necklaces and earrings.
Garnet – Garnets are typically thought of as red, but some rare purple varieties do exist. They typically come from East Africa, including Mozambique. Purple agate can also be found in a color change variety that transitions from red to purple. Because it comes from a politically unstable region, purple garnet is very hard to find.
Iolite – Iolites are a readily available and highly affordable purple stone with hues that tend to the blue side of purple. They are often confused with amethysts. Iolites are fairly hard but are at risk of chipping or breaking if they are struck against a hard surface. It’s best to set iolite in a protected setting such as a bezel or halo.
Jade – While most people think of jade as a green stone, it actually comes in a variety of colors. Purple jade can range from a pale icy lavender to a medium purple. There are actually two kinds of jade, nephrite, and jadeite. Jadeite is considered higher quality and more valuable but it is difficult to tell the difference.
Kunzite – Kunzite is a beautiful gemstone that occurs in pink to purple shades. Most purple kunzite is rather light in color but some stones can have a vivid and intense hue. Kunzite can also be found in two-tone varieties with both pink and purple in the same stone. Much like tanzanite, this is a soft stone that needs to be protected from impact.
Sapphire – Purple sapphires are simply stunning. They come in a variety of shades from lavender to deep reddish-purple. There are actually two varieties of purple sapphires. In addition to those that are solid purple, sapphires come in a color change variety that alternates between purple and blue depending on the light source. Sapphires are September’s birthstone.
Spinel – Purple spinel is a more affordable option than its red or blue varieties. The most popular shades range from lilac to mauve. A fairly hard stone (8 on the Moh’s scale), spinel is appropriate for everyday wear.
Sugilite – Sugilite is found from faint pink-purple varieties to dark blue-purple. It was discovered in Japan and is considered a rare stone. It is a very soft gemstone (5-6 on the Moh’s scale) and is easy to damage. Sugilite is better suited to necklaces and earrings.
Tanzanite – These stones, discovered in Tanzania in 1967 and named by Tiffany & Company, tend to the blue side of purple. The palest are close to a periwinkle blue and the darkest a deep bluish violet. Tanzanite is one of December’s birthstones and is said to have many mystical and healing powers. It is believed to uplift and open the heart, and is also believed to assist in metaphysical healing. Tanzanite is a soft stone (6.5 on the Moh’s scale) and more prone to chipping than sapphires (9 on the Moh’s scale).
Topaz – Topaz is typically thought of as blue or yellow but it does occur in a reddish-purple tone as well. During the Middle Ages topaz was thought to heal physical and mental disorders and prevent death. Topaz is a fairly hard stone (8 on the Moh’s scale) that wears well.