Purple Amethyst vs. Quartz (Simple Comparison)

Simply put, amethyst is a purple quartz, and like most minerals, quartz can come in a variety of colors, including purple.   Yes, amethyst is a type of quartz, as they belong to the same family, but visually, it’s different than “quartz.”

Quartz is a common mineral, and when it’s pure, it’s colorless, however, when impurities, natural radiation, and minor internal fracturing is involved, it can change the dynamic.

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How can you tell amethyst from quartz?

It’s not as hard as you think.

In today’s post, let’s talk about the differences between quartz and amethyst as well as their similarities.

What is quartz?

First, let’s talk about what quartz is.

It’s an igneous rock made up of oxygen and silicon atoms that will crystalize around magma and hydrothermal vents.  It’s one of the most popular rocks found in the Earth’s crust and can form as crystals, clusters and geodes.

Now, the quartz that’s forms will depend on how fast it was able to cool down over time.  Some quartz will cool down slower and form tinier crystals, whereas other quartz will have larger crystals.  As minerals mix in during the formation, it can cause the appearance to look different.  For instance, amethyst will have iron impurities, which causes the purple color.

As mentioned, when it’s pure, it won’t have a color, but many things can change the outcome, such as iron impurities.

Other common color varieties of quartz include rose quartz (pink), cairgorm (brown), smoky quartz (black) and citrine (yellow).

You can also find micro or crypto crystalline varieties of quartz, which include bloodstone (red and green), agate and even jasper.

What is amethyst?

Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz and it gets its colors from iron impurities as well as irradiation, which is the process where amethyst is exposed to radiation.   If quartz doesn’t have impurities, it will be colorless.   Simply put, if it’s quartz and it’s purple, it will be known as amethyst.

A real amethyst will always have color zoning rather than one solid color.  Usually, amethyst will be a purple hue, ranging from something dark to light violet.  From a distance, the colors can blend, creating a rainbow of purple color.  Usually, amethyst will have a milky, translucent shading, and when you hold it to the light, you can see a variety of purple shades.

Compared to other quartz, it will appear different, but this is because it contains less silica than other quartz stones.

So, all amethyst is quartz, however, not all quartz is purple.

Compare it to a shape.

A square and a triangle are shapes but they are different from one another.

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What is the difference between quartz and amethyst?

The easiest way to tell the difference is by the color.  This is the major difference between the two.

A real amethyst will always have some sort of coloring, which will be a shade of purple, ranging from a darker violet to something almost as pale as white.  While amethyst can have other shades, such as red or blue, it won’t be as vibrant as the purple hue.  You will usually need a microscope to see these color combinations.

Amethyst will have a “zone” of purple hues, not one solid color and will have a milky, translucent-like shade around the crystal.  If you hold it up to the light, you should be able to see a variety of shades.

If the quartz isn’t purple, then it’s not an “amethyst.”

In the end, amethyst is a purple variety of quartz, but the colors change the name, which is due to the formation.

While they are both related, they are not the same thing.  Bother quartz and amethyst are types of minerals, but have different compositions and physical properties.

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About Me

Hi! I'm Lauren, and I run Moonlight Gems AZ. I'm an avid crystal collector and would love to share my expertise with you.