In Piedra Parada, amethysts are everywhere.
PIEDRA PARADA IS A SOMEWHAT obscure mountain town in the Mexican state of Veracruz that has carved out its own special corner of an international market. The region is known for its amethysts, a type of quartz crystal with color ranging from light to deep shades of purple, formed in sometimes impressive geometric shapes.
The men of Piedra Parada (“Standing Rock”) have mined these crystals for the past 70 years for buyers all over the world who covet them for both their beauty and purported metaphysical qualities. The stones from the town’s numerous mines and small excavations can be found at gem shows and in New Age stores around the world.
“Veracruz amethyst is very distinctive, the way the crystals form—you really can’t mistake it from being from any other place,” says Terry “Skip” Szenics, a longtime collector and dealer, and a fixture on the gem show circuit. “It’s special in a way that when you see a specimen and ask where it’s from, I say, ‘Are you kidding me? Of course it’s from Veracruz.’”
Piedra Parada, population 468, is about an hour drive northwest of Xalapa, Veracruz’s capital city, high in the Sierra Madres. The route takes you through the countryside and small towns, and then onto steep, winding mountain roads that switch from paved to dirt and back again and shoot rocks noisily into the undercarriage of vehicles.
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