Amethyst, February’s Birthstone
Amethyst, February’s birthstone, occurs in many shades from a light lavender pink to a deep purple. It is also “pleochrioc”, which means that when light hits the gem, shades of different colours such as reds and blues can be seen.
Amethyst is now mined in several countries including the USA, Brazil, Madagascar and Kenya. It is probably the most well known member of the Quartz family of gemstones alongside Citrine.
This gemstone comes from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning “not drunken” because the ancient Greeks believed that the Amethyst gemstone could prevent intoxication or drunkenness. The belief was so strong that the Greeks carved goblets out of the gemstone for drinking wine.
It is also considered an ideal gemstone for those struggling or recovering from alcoholism as it is said to protect against drunkenness.
In medieval times soldiers wore amulets with this gemstone whilst in battle because it was thought to have properties which would heal, mend and bring good luck. It is considered a symbol of peace of mind, modesty and piety. Some believe that it holds the powers to change anger to tranquillity and is used by crystal healers to revert negative energy into positive.
Amethyst is popular for its healing and meditative powers and purifies the mind body and spirit, helping to realign the chakras.
Not only is this gemstone the birthstone of February, it is also associated with the astrological signs of the Zodiac i.e. Aquarius, Aries and Capricorn.
One of the most popular of the lighter subtle lavender tones, know as “Rose De France Amethyst” comes through with bright bursts of brilliance. In the light it dances with liveliness and dazzle. A true lady of the gem world.
This gemstone is interesting in that it varies greatly from one location to another. Experts can identify the source mine just from a visual inspection. For example, Amethyst from Veracruz, eastern Mexico, tends to be very pale, and the crystals are usually found with clear quartz on the interior and purple on the outside. Specimens from Guerrero, southwest-central Mexico, are found the other way round and are some of the most valuable Amethyst crystals.
In Greek myth, Amethyst was rock crystal dyed purple by the tears of Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry. In fact it owes its purple colour to impurities of iron.
Today, Amethyst is very popular for jewellery. It is found in both long prismatic crystals which are suitable for cutting, or as druses, (). It is often cut as round brilliant to maximise colour. Deep colours are the most valuable.
The colour of Amethyst is unstable and can diminish with protracted exposure to sunlight. So do not leave it in direct sunlight for a long time. It can also be heat-treated to produce the yellow of the rarer quartz variety, CITRINE. Pale stones may be set in a closed setting with a backing of foil to enhance the colour.
Amethyst is mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. It was also one of the 12 gemstones adorning the breastplate of Aaron.
Since the middle ages it has been set into rings worn by Cardinals, Bishops and Priests of the Catholic Church. It has also been cherished by royalty. Several pieces can be found in the British crown jewels. Catherine the Great had it as one of her favourites.
A very popular gemstone and can be one of great beauty.