AZGem Gems

March 2013


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The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter

Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company

and other visitors to the website who subscribe.




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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.


Amethyst Featuring Color Banding


amethyst featuring color banding


Amethyst featuring color banding is rare in faceted gemstones, such as the one shown above.

Amethyst featuring color banding is practically an assurance that the gem is natural. Synthetic amethyst rarely shows any color zoning, and never color banding to my knowledge. Natural amethyst is nearly always color zoned, or occasionally, color banded.

Amethyst is the most popular variety of gem quartz. Natural amethyst colors range from the familiar and most popular, rich royal purple to pastel violet/lavender (referred to as rose de France or Apache rose). Pure quartz is colorless. The element that imparts color to amethyst is a trace of iron.

Green amethyst is a marketing term applied to the gem prasiolite. Heat treatment of amethyst can change the color… to yellow, orange, or pale green. Some citrine is also produced by heat treatment. By the marketer’s logic, citrine could be called yellow amethyst. Neither term is correct.



amethyst featuring color zoning


In the ancient Greek culture, amethyst was believed to prevent intoxication. Wine was often drunk from a Kýpello (chalice or drinking vessel) carved from amethyst. I’ve heard that this belief was rooted in the fact that their wine was the color of amethyst. The gemstone continues to symbolize sobriety in some cultures.

Amethyst also continues to be a favorite stone for carving decorative objects. Animals, flowers, and even cameos are favored subjects.

Amethyst featuring color banding is often opaque, and suitable for carved objecst de art, or is tumble polished.


amethyst featuring color zoning



Amethyst featuring color banding, and in a quality suitable for cutting as a faceted gem can be found occassionally. It almost always carries a premium price because of the rarity of the raw material and the custom cutting.

Aivan Pham is an award winning custom faceter based right here in Scottsdale, Arizona. He cuts fine gems for gem dealers and jewelers. He occasionally finds the time to cut gems that win awards in world-wide competitions. One of his recent winning creations is a suite of banded amethyst gems.


amethyst featuring color banding



Several years ago, my company was exploring the possibility of purchasing and operating the famous Four Peaks Amethyst Mine. In addition to iron, this amethyst also contains manganese, which is thought to contribute to its fine color. The mine derives its name from the Four Peaks mountain in the Tonto National Forest.

Four Peaks mountain is visible from Scottsdale. It rises from the desert floor to a height exceeding 7000 feet. At that height the mountain creates what is known as a “sky inland” – a sub-alpine ecological niche surrounded by desert. It is a surprising event for our winter visitors lounging by a resort swimming pool to look out to the northeast and see a mountain crowned with snow. In fact, there is snow on Four Peaks as I write this.

The amethyst occurrence has been known for hundreds of years. The Apache people and other regional inhabitants knew of it. Spanish explorers learned of it in the 1530’s from the Indians. The Spanish “rediscovered” it in the 1700’s and did a little mining.

Around 1900 a 20 acre mining claim was filed and mining began in earnest. The mine has been operated off and on by several owners since then. Most of that time, hard rock, room-and-pillar mining techniques are employed.

In 1984 the Four Peaks Wilderness was established. The mine is now surrounded by that Wilderness. Getting to the mine prior to the wilderness designation was possible via a dangerous Jeep trail. For workers and supplies to get to the mine now, they must walk or go by helicopter.

This mine is located high in the fold between peaks three and four from the left.


four peaks amethyst

This early morning photo of Four Peaks was takes a few days before a winter storm swept across the Arizona desert, capping the peaks with snow.


TigerDirect Best Sellers


Now let me tie all of this together…

Facet grade amethyst featuring color banding is somewhat rare and expensive, as I said earlier. I also said most natural amethyst exhibits color zoning. Four Peaks Amethyst is renowned for its fine color, but it too often shows color zoning.

When we were looking into the possible purchase of the mine, my husband and son made the five mile hike up to the mine, accompanied by a former worker. They picked a spot at random and dug a hole approximately three feet wide and about as deep. They removed every crystal encountered as they dug the hole. After that, they packed the crystals and their tools back out.

Several days of sorting and working (cobbing) the crystals into facet rough were required to prepare the amethyst for cutting. 

Evaluating the quality, sizes, and total weight of the finished faceted stones (Yield) that resulted from this effort was necessary to determine the mine’s value to us.


amethyst featuring color zoning


We took a portion of the amethyst rough up the street to Aivan Pham for quality cutting.

While we were not able to negotiate the purchase of the mine, we came away with a lot of quality amethyst… and we still have some, both faceted and rough.

We continue to sell Four Peaks Amethyst today. We have a variety of shapes and sizes. The color zoned stones (example above) are popular because they are

  • Natural gems
  • Very good, natural color. No heat treatment
  • Quality faceting
  • Low price per carat

If you would like some of these pretty gems, I will sell them to you at wholesale prices, with a money back guarantee.


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Photo Information


Top - An example of an amethyst featuring color banding

Next - Ancient amethyst drinking drinking vessel

Next: - Amethyst carved animal

Next: - Aivan Pham's award winning custom cutting in banded amethyst

Next -  Four Peaks, home to the Four Peaks Amethyst Mine

Next - Natural gem amethyst with color zoning, from our stock -  positioned to emphasize color zones

Next - Swiss passenger plane, after the diamond heist

Next - Gem Special Offer - Four Peaks amethyst with natural color zoning

Next - Dealer Product Image - Blue Spinel and White Topaz Ring in Sterling Silver

Last - Dealer Program Image - Pink Spinel and Sterling Silver Earrings



30% off your entire order at!


A Google search using keywords such as International Colored Gemstone Association can return some very interesting information and websites.




Gem Offer




Here is this month's special gem deal. 


Gem:     Amethyst 

Color:     Purple - with zoning

Quality:     Commercial gem

Shape:     Oval

Size:     10 x 8 mm

Weight:     2.00 carats

Price:     $30

Send me an email (with anti-spam) and tell me that you want this fine gem.

We keep gem prices low by buying quality gemstone rough worldwide, and having the rough material cut by our gem cutters in Asia.


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Gem Industry News


$50 Million Diamond Robbery


four peaks amethyst


The largest, and probably boldest, diamond heist in recent years took place at Brussels airport just before 8 pm on Monday night, February 18. The estimated value of the stones is $50 million.

Personnel from a high-security van operated by Brinks had just finished unloading the diamonds and were placing them in the cargo hold of a Swiss passenger plane operated by Helvetic Airways.

Eight men armed with machine guns and dressed in police uniforms stormed through an opening they had made in the airport fence and approached the plane with police lights flashing. They drove a van and a passenger car looking like police vehicles.

In less than five minutes they held workers at bay and stole the bags of diamonds from the open safes in the plane.

Passengers on the aircraft did not notice the heist in progress. The van used was later found burned outside the city.

The diamond parcels were thought to contain both polished and rough diamonds. The stones were being transported to multiple diamond dealers in Zurich, Switzerland.  


Kimberley Process Certificate Numbers Released On 25 February, 2013

Two days ago, the European Union released the Kimberley Process Certificate Numbers for the rough diamond parcels that were stolen in the Brussels airport diamond heist.

The World Diamond Council website published the KP certificate numbers along with an appeal "urging members of the trade who may be offered diamonds carrying these associated KP certificate numbers to immediately contact the authorities in their countries."




gemstone news


Jewelry Dealers


wholesale jewelry


Now is the time to begin rebuilding your inventory

The Christmas season has depleted your stock of loose gems and jewelry pieces, it's time to begin planning and buying. 

While we all build inventory with an eye towards upcoming events... such as Valentine's Day, we also need to keep an eye on our customer profiles. Who has an anniversary, birthday, or other family event coming up?

Balancing trade show visits, customer service, marketing, and building inventory while ensuring positive cash flow takes effort and planning

Be The quality jewelry dealer.


SBI Video Tour!


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Jewelry Dealers Program


jewelry dealers program


Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?

Do you enjoy talking with friends and friends of friends?

Could you use an extra income source?

Take a look at our great Jewelry Dealers Program.



Carolyn Doyle

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