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  • Writer's pictureValerieBound

My favorite purple gems

Perhaps by the look of this website, you'll know I love all shades of of purple and violet! Supposedly, purple symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, and pushes us to be creative. It speaks to our calmer, spiritual side. I'm not sure about all that, but I do have an amethyst crystal sitting on the top of my jewelry box.

So let's talk about some great purple GEMS! Because there are so many that just don’t get enough attention.


One of my favorite gemstones is amethyst. Underrated in my opinion, this is a beautiful stone with a fascinating history. Luckily for all of us, it’s easy to find in the market in all kinds of jewelry. Chances are, if you see a purple gem, it’s amethyst. Amethyst used to be considered a precious stone, right up there with rubies and emeralds, until lots and lots of amethyst was found in Brazil around 1820. It’s popularity goes WAY back, though, and is worldwide. In ancient Egypt, they wore amethysts as protective amulets. Catherine the Great of Russia loved amethysts so much she sent thousands of miners to Siberia to get the best quality for herself. And the British monarchy has tons of amethyst in their Crown Jewels.

2 exquisite examples of amethyst tiaras, one in British hands and one in Swedish

Although amethyst is the birthstone for February, you should feel free to wear this great gemstone any time you want! Amethyst comes in all shades of purple. Typically, the more intense the purple, the more expensive it is. Today, most amethyst comes to us from South America, typically Brazil or Uruguay.

Most amethyst you see is faceted, but check out this beautiful amethyst cabochon:


Tanzanite is truly one of the rarest stones on earth, and while it’s more reliably blue than purple, there are shades that definitely fall into the ultra violet color. It’s named after the country it was found in – Tanzania. It’s a very new gemstone to the market, only discovered in 1967. The father of the first geologist on scene worked for Saks Fifth Avenue and he tried to convince them to market it to the American public. When Saks passed, he moved on to Tiffany’s. And Tiffany was definitely interested. But they were worried about what to call this new stone. While technically a variety of zoisite, they thought the word zoisite sounded too close to the word suicide, so they agreed to call it tanzanite, and it’s stayed that way ever since.

Tanzanite is a lovely gemstone. While it’s quite rare, it’s not very expensive. Take advantage, tanzanite is estimated to be mined out of existence within the next 20 years!


Iolite is another very pretty stone, with a beautiful color range. Like tanzanite, it can be blue or violet. It’s certainly not as common as amethyst, but it’s around. I typically see iolite in earrings, as little briolettes.

Iolite earrings
Iolite earrings

There isn’t a real steady supply of iolite, mainly because we don’t see a lot of demand from consumers. So if you’re looking for it, it’s great because it’s very inexpensive. I discovered that although most iolite on the market comes from India, it is an American gemstone as well. A huge deposit of iolite was found in Wyoming in 1996.

 Examples of iolite from Wyoming
Examples of iolite from Wyoming

You might sometimes hear people call this stone “water sapphire.” Although it’s an outdated term, it makes sense. Iolite has a tendency to look water-y, like you’re seeing the color under water.

Faceted iolite and ruby from Wyoming
Faceted iolite and ruby from Wyoming

Iolite, to me, is another underrated gem. Because it’s so cheap, you find it in cheaper jewelry, which is a shame. This stone can be stunning when the right designer showcases it properly.

Alice Cicolini iolite studs
Alice Cicolini iolite studs


Tourmaline is a gemstone with a huge color range. While it comes in purple, it also comes in green and blue and red and orange. If you really want tourmaline in a violet shade, you can find it. But you’re going to have to be proactive. It is a very small segment of what’s on the market.

Violet tourmaline ring by Audrius Krulis
Violet tourmaline ring by Audrius Krulis

Purple Sapphires

Ah, sapphires. Everyone loves them, and they too have an incredible color range. While we tend to focus on blue sapphires, they also can be yellow, orange, green, pink, and yes, purple. Also like tourmaline, these gemstones are around, but not real common. Surprisingly, I found some lovely sapphires in the ultraviolet hue on Etsy.

Purple sapphire ring
Purple sapphire ring

Also, sapphire on the market can mined (or natural) and lab-created (synthetic). Just be aware.

The other great thing about sapphires is that some cabochons have this phenomenal aspect where they show a star. It’s not always easy to see from photos, but trust me, it’s really cool in person!

Star sapphire ring
Star sapphire ring

Violet Gemstones are everywhere!

In this post, I only talked about five gemstones. I picked these ones because of their beauty and availability. Plus, they’re all are suitable for everyday jewelry. And they have a variety of price points that anyone could work with.

So what do you think? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments.

This post had been edited and updated since it was originally published on July 26, 2018.


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