Amethyst vs Tanzanite | Here’s the Difference

There’s no question that both amethyst and tanzanite are beautiful gemstones widely used for jewelry.  At first glance, they can be classified as a purple gemstone, however, this is the only similarity.  From there, these gemstones are quite different from one another.

If you’re interested in these stones and want to know the differences, you’re not alone.

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In this guide, let’s talk about the differences between the two as well as what you should look out for to ensure you’re distinguishing one from another.

What is tanzanite?

Tanzanite is one of the rarest gemstones on the market and relatively new, as it was discovered in the 1960s in Tanzania, Merelani, which is an area located in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro.  As of now, it’s the only place the gemstone has ever been found.  Over the years, this gemstone has been growing in popularity, mainly due to its intense blue-violet color and extreme clarity.  In fact, it’s one of the most popular blue gemstones.  Tanzanite is a unique gemstone and is a variety of zoisite and calcium aluminum silicate, mainly blue.

What is amethyst?

Amethyst is a variety of quartz, mostly known for its purple hue, thanks to its iron impurities.  It comes from the Greek word, Amethystos, which means intoxicated, and for centuries, even dating back to Egyptian times, it has been used for both spiritual and medicinal purposes.  Since the 1800s, amethyst has been found all around the world and it’s the reason it isn’t all that expensive.  Most notably, amethyst is found in Brazil, Uruguay, Russia and the United States, to name a few.

What is the difference between amethyst and tanzanite?

Of course, there are some differences between the two, and usually, it’s easy to spot the differences between amethyst and tanzanite.  To confirm these differences, however, there are a few things to look out for:


Tanzanite can be found in a range of colors, from blue to green to pink to yellow.  Most commonly, however, you will find it as an all-blue gemstone, which is referred to as blue zoisite in the gem world. This color occurs when zoisite has traces of vanadium in the crystals.  On the market, these crystals are treated at a low temperature to create much more of the gem quality tanzanite jewelry you see today.  When heated, the blue is much deeper in color. When you hold tanzanite up to the light, you should see three different hues when observed from different angles.  The more saturated the color is, the higher in value it will be.

Amethyst, however, will always be a dominant purple color, ranging from a light hue to something much darker.  Naturally, amethyst can heat within the earth, which can cause the crystal to change color.  As long as the conditions are right, it can turn yellow/orange and is then referred to citrine when done so.  Combined, while rare, you can find the two blended together and this is referred to as ametrine.


Amethyst will have a vitreous luster as well as colorless streaks, and the clarity will greatly depend on the stone’s inclusions.  Depending on the crystal, amethyst can either be transparent or translucent.

Tanzanite will have a vitreous luster with either a white or colorless streak.  Mostly, the clarity will be transparent but can be translucent due to the inclusions.  The clearer the stone is, the more valuable it can be.  Tanzanite  will usually be clearer than amethyst.

Crystal Structure

Like any zoisite, tanzanite has an orthorhombic crystallization system, whereas amethyst will have a hexagon crystal structure.  Amethyst is a quartz crystal, whereas tanzanite is a zoisite gemstone variety.


Both are relatively hardy stones.  Amethyst measures a 7 on the Mohs Scale, whereas tanzanite is slightly lower at 6.5.  The Mohs Scale determines how scratch resistant a stone is, with a lower number meaning it’s much more susceptible to scratches.  For example, talc, which is a one is much more brittle than a diamond, which is a 10.  The higher the number, the more durable it can be.

Both of these stones are solid enough to withstand water and sunlight; however, as with any crystals, precautions must be considered.  Always avoid prolonged periods to play it safe.


Amethyst can produce larger crystals, some weighing well into the double digits.  Tanzanite, however, doesn’t get as big, only weighing a few carats, if that.


As noted, tanzanite is much rarer than that of amethyst, which means tanzanite will be a lot more in price.  Tanzanite is only found in one place in the world (Tanzania), whereas amethyst is found in 10+ countries.  Amethyst will always be much cheaper than tanzanite, no matter how you purchase it.  Top tanzanite stones can easily cost more than $450+ per carat, whereas a gem quality amethyst, even the highest of quality, can cost around $50 per carat.   Clusters, towers, geodes, etc can be much, much less.


Amethyst is said to be connected to the third eye and crown chakra due to its purple color.  For centuries, it was said to help soothe anxiety as well as balance your mood swings.  It’s a great stone to use during meditation or cleansing.

Tanzanite is known to increase your confidence as well as help you with any difficulties you’re experiencing in life.  Whenever you have the stone nearby, it may act like a shield to keep the worries away.  Tanzanite is connected to your third eye and throat chakra, as it helps with your communication and exploring your inner self.

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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.