Uruguayan amethysts are internationally recognized for their quality.

The intense violet-colored gemstones are on display in the Uruguay pavilion at Expo Dubai.

Uruguay is a producer and exporter of two types of quartz gemstones, amethysts and agates. Amethyst is a stone that generates international interest, both for the size of its crystals and for its intense color, which can vary from white to dark violet, almost black. Indeed, the darker the stone, the more expensive it is, but its price also depends on other variables such as its size, as well as the quantity and size of the crystals.

Some of the pieces mined in northern Uruguay, such as those that can be seen in the Uruguay pavilion at Expo Dubai, have a vaulted shape and the violet crystals can be seen inside. The quality of Uruguayan amethyst is very high, because it is more violet than in other areas of extraction near the country and also because it has a greater amount of crystals, which allows them to be brighter.

Amethyst is a natural stone. Its color is generated by the concentration of iron in the stone, but its origin is not certain, since there are several theories about the formation of its deposits in northern Uruguay. It is believed that about 130 million years ago, with the separation of the continents, in the desert that existed in the area at that time, there was a large volcanic explosion with lava spillage. The contact of this with the sand caused a release of gases that when cooled generated hollows inside the stones, in which sand was introduced generating amethyst or agate geodes, which are different types of quartz.

Other theories hold that the solidified lava was affected by the presence of water rich in quartz mineral. In ancient times, amethyst geodes were prized for their healing and mystical properties.

These are stones that can range from a few kilograms to more than 10 tons. Because of their color and purity, they are used in special pieces of jewelry, as well as for ornamental and decorative purposes. The larger ones are exhibited in hotels and parks.

Uruguayan amethysts are among the best known in the world. Indeed, Uruguay is recognized as one of the most important producers of this type of stone in the world. Its deposits are located 70 kilometers south of the city of Artigas, in the northernmost department of the country. Mining is done in the open pit and through tunnels.

In terms of exports, in the last two years China has been the largest buyer of Uruguayan gemstones, followed closely by Brazil and then by the United States and Hong Kong. Japan and European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy are also important buyers of these geodes for Uruguay.

Ph. Fernando Carballo

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