For individuals with February birthdays, the amethyst makes a perfect birthstone. This month is often cold, dark and short for many people around the world, so the amethyst—which is often associated with qualities of peace, courage and stability—is the right gem for individuals who need a little extra warmth and strength this time of year. Its also the gem for the 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries.
A beautiful purple quartz, the amethyst is an easily recognizable gem, but you may not know everything about it just yet!
Amethyst is purple quartz, and is a beautiful blend of violet and red that can found in every corner of the earth. The name comes from the Ancient Greek, derived from the word “methustos,” which means “intoxicated.” Ancient wearers believed the gemstone could protect them from drunkenness.
Amethyst, as previously mentioned, is composed of quartz, which is the second most abundant material found in the Earth’s crust. Amethyst gets its color from irradiation, iron impurities and the presence of trace elements. Its hardness (a 7 on the Mohs scale) is the same as other quartz, which makes it a durable and lasting option for jewelry.
While amethyst is most commonly recognized to be a purple color, the gemstone can actually range from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple that can read more blue or red, depending on the light. Sometimes, even the same stone can have layers or color variants, so the way the gemstone is cut is important to the way the color shows in a finished piece.
Amethyst often occurs in geodes or in the cavities of granitic rocks. It can be found all over the world, including the United States, Canada Brazil and Zambia.
Amethyst, the gemstone believed by ancient Greeks and Romans to ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, also was said to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. Throughout history, the gemstone has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. English regalia were even decorated with amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty. Amethyst jewelry has been found and dated as early as 2000 BC.
It has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. Some historical accounts say that Saint Valentine had an amethyst ring carved with an image of Cupid. And for those familiar with Old Testament history, amethyst was one of the twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel.
For many years, amethyst was held to be one of the most precious gemstones, often favored by royalty or exclusively by the clergy as a symbol for the diety of Christ. It was even held for many years in the same regard as the diamond. It wasn’t until the discovery of more abundant supplies of amethyst that it became a gemstone enjoyed by more than just the wealthiest buyers.
Many wearers of amethyst throughout history and even today prize the gem for its symbolism as well as its beauty. Leonard da Vinci once said that amethyst helps to quicken intelligence and get rid of evil thoughts. Other qualities like peace, stability, courage and strength are said to be derived from this gemstone.
Today, many wearers simply prize the amethyst for its beautiful shade and the way it complements both warm and cool colors.