Learn about Amethyst
Amethyst was as expensive as ruby and emerald until the 19th Century, when Brazil’s large deposits were discovered. It was believed to prevent intoxication—amethystos means “not drunk” in ancient Greek. Today, as the most valued quartz variety, amethyst is in demand for designer pieces and mass-market jewelry alike, and its purple to pastel hues retain wide consumer appeal.
Amethyst Birthstones & Anniversaries
Amethyst is the birthstone for February and the gem for the 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries.
Overview of Amethyst
Amethyst is purple quartz. It is a beautiful blend of violet and red that can be found in every corner of the world. 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 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 range from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple that can read more blue or red, depending on the light. Sometimes 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.
The amethyst is not only the February birthstone, it is also used to celebrate the sixth and 17th years of marriage.
History of Amethyst
Throughout history, amethyst has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed this gemstone could ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus and keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. English regalia were decorated with amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty. Amethyst jewelry has been found and dated as early as 2000 BC.
Some historical accounts say that Saint Valentine had an amethyst ring carved with an image of Cupid. 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 deity 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.
Today, many wearers simply prize the amethyst gemstone for its beautiful shade of purple and the way it complements both warm and cool colors.
Frequently asked questions about Amethyst gemstones
Learn more about colorful gemstones, their symbolism, which stone represents your birthstone, which stone to celebrate an Anniversary with and more ways to incorporate colorful gems in to your jewelry box.
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