The Amethyst is the official modern and traditional birthstone of February. The gemstone for the 6th year of marriage, as well as being my birthstone!! With a Mohs hardness of 7, it is usually a cut gemstone, faceted to let through the light and enhance the deep beautiful purple of the stone.
The Amethyst is the most valuable stone in the quartz group and the violet-colored sister stone of the citrine quartz. The only difference between amethyst and citrine is the higher amount of iron and aluminum deposits, which give the amethyst its purple color. It also has a translucent clarity and a vitreous, glass-like luster. Most Amethyst is untreated, because treating an Amethyst will destroy the iron impurities and diminish the purple color to create a “heated” citrine.
The color can range from light lavender to a deep purple. The most important deposits come from Brazil and the deeper purple color is more highly sought after. However, some stones can be so deep purple, they appear black; an undesirable trait. For some time, the Amethyst was as valuable and rare as diamonds. But deposits discovered in the USA (Arizona), Russia, Bolivia, Canada, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Burma, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay and Zambia have decreased its rarity as well as its price.
Long has the amethyst been shrouded in mystical beliefs and has long had a place in the Catholic Church known as the “stone of the Bishops”. Associated with its allusion to wounds and the suffering of Christ, it is seen to aid in the healing of wounds. The deep purple/red representing spirituality and the purifying affects of suffering.
The name Amethyst derives from the ancient Greek word amethustos, meaning sober. It is said that an amethyst could prevent the wearer from becoming excessively drunk and it instills a sober and serious mind. Drinking from a cup or goblet made entirely of amethyst would prevent intoxication and have a calming affect. It was also believed to assist prophecy and visions, bringing riches and power to its owners. In the past it was believed, and is still believed today, that the wearer of an amethyst would encourage calm, bravery and contemplation as well as control over one’s self.
Since purple is considered a royal color, the deep purple stone has a historical importance as an insignia of power. The amethyst has been used as a carved stone in many royal insignia rings. A personal favorite of Queen Catherine the Great of Russia, the amethysts are also featured in the British Crown Jewels.
St. Valentine was thought to wear a ring set with an antique Amethyst carved with an image of Cupid, so I guess it is fitting that the stone is the Birthstone of February, which also celebrates Valentines Day.
So wear amethyst to help ward off drunkenness, to help you keep a calm mind, and hob-nob with royalty!
Until next month when we discuss the beautiful light blue Aquamarine, the birthstone of March.