Amethyst is the flag bearer for the Quartz family of gemstones, which also includes Citrine and Prasiolite. The gem perfectly showcases all that this mineral has to offer, across a variety of hues from delicate light pinks to deep dark purples. Known for having eye clean clarity in many specimens and for being readily available in generous carat weights, Amethyst remains one of the most popular gemstones on the market. With a fascinating history and so much color, let’s explore more facts about Amethyst and its varieties.
THE HISTORY OF AMETHYST
Amethyst’s use in rudimentary jewelry can be traced back as far as the Neolithic period (approximately 4,000 BC) and samples of it set into gold rings have been uncovered in burial sites from around 2,400 BC.
Amethyst is the name given to purple Quartz and some believe that its name derives from the Greek word ‘Amethustos’, ‘a’ meaning ‘not’ and ‘methustos’ meaning ‘to intoxicate’. In ancient times, wealthy lords who wanted to stay sober were said to have had drinking glasses or goblets made from Amethyst. While pouring wine for their guests they could serve themselves water, as the dark purple hue of the gem would disguise the color of the drink so it looked like wine, thus allowing the lord appears to be partaking in a tipple! Following the same theme, it was thought in ancient times if you wished to save a drunkard from delirium you could mix crushed Amethyst into a person’s drink.
One legend from Greek mythology tells the tale of Dionysus, the god of intoxication, and a young beautiful maiden, named Amethystos, who refused his advances. Dionysus let loose fierce tigers while Amethystos was on her way to pray to the goddess Diana. Before they reached her, Diana turned her into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the advancing tigers. Humbled by Amethystos’ resolution, and horrified at what he had almost done to her, he wept tears of wine. Legend says his tears turned the colorless Quartz purple, thus creating Amethyst.
Amethyst is mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel and was also one of the twelve gemstones adorning the breastplate of the high priest Aaron (Exodus 39). With its association with piety and celibacy, Amethyst has been set into rings and worn by Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests of the Catholic Church since the Middle Ages. Over the years, along with its use by the Church, the gem has also been cherished by royalty and several pieces can be found in the British Crown Jewels. Amethyst was also known as a personal favorite of Catherine the Great.
A bracelet worn by Queen Charlotte of England in the early 1700s was valued at £200 at that time. However, shortly after this, a new discovery of Amethyst deposits was made in Brazil, which dramatically reduced the value of the Queen’s bracelet. This provides a good example of how the value of genuine gemstones (just like the stock market) can go up and down based on supply and demand. When mines are eventually exhausted prices tend to increase; as new deposits are found, gemstone prices generally decrease.
Amethyst is steeped in a rich and romantic history owing to its association with St Valentine. The patron saint of romantic love wore an Amethyst ring carved with the image of Cupid and this lead to Amethyst becoming a birthstone for the month of February. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that Amethyst quickens the intelligence and helped to dissipate evil thoughts.
AMETHYST GEMSTONE INFORMATION
Amethyst is the birthstone of February and is the official gemstone for Wednesday. It is also the official gemstone for the 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries. The gem features a trigonal crystal system. Amethyst occurs in many shades, from a light, slightly lavender pinkish to a deep purple similar to that of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Amethyst can also be slightly pleochroic, which means that when light hits the gem, shades of different colors such as reds and blues can be seen from different angles. The color comes from iron impurities within the stone, without which it would be colorless. The amount of iron within each stone determines how deep the color is.
As a gemstone, it was once as expensive as Emerald, but in the 19th century, Brazil came to dominate the gemstone landscape with their huge scale mining operations that have long since diminished. Amethyst still ranks as the most expensive and desired variety of Quartz due to its unique natural deep purple body color and exceptional clarity. Fine grade Amethyst is found in Brazil, Zambia and most recently an exquisite and completely distinctive variety was discovered in Morocco.
In Brazil this stone forms in hollow, crystal-lined geodes and in other locations it forms over millions of years embedded in its host rock. The most desired color for the body color of Amethyst is a deep ‘Siberian’ purple reminiscent of the now depleted original source. Finest examples of Amethyst form in two distinct color groups; a deep purple with undertones of a cool blue or a reddish-purple, sometimes referred to as ‘raspberry’.
As there is no single dominant organization or ruling body relating to gemstones, there are often different approaches to how a gem is graded or named. Many organizations within the jewelry industry, for instance, refer to Green Quartz as Green Amethyst, while others refer to Green Quartz as Prasiolite, Amegreen or Vermarine. This is a really hot topic in the gem world, with some believing that the name Amethyst can only be applied to purple Quartz, others saying if a Quartz’s green color is derived from heat-treated Amethyst then it should be named Green Amethyst and others saying it should be known as Green Quartz or Prasiolite. Prasiolite has been known to appear naturally in a small mine in Silesia, Poland, and claims of natural Green Amethyst discoveries have also been made in Namibia, the US state of Nevada, Zambia, and Tanzania.
Different tones of Amethyst have different prefixes. ‘Siberian Amethyst’ refers to darker Amethyst regardless of whether they are from Siberia or not (though traditionally they were before the mines were exhausted), normally having a tone of 75-80%. Amethyst with a more pinkish tone (20-30% tone) is named ‘Rose de France Amethyst’. Amethyst is a hard and durable gemstone measuring 7 on the Mohs scale. In its rough state, the gem often forms in long prismatic crystals, making it ideal for cutting. Because its color can often appear banded, it is usually cut into round brilliant shapes which helps the gem display a more uniformed color when viewed through the table or crown facets.
One of the largest Amethyst mines in the world is in Maissau in Austria and is unusual in that it is open to the public. If you want to travel further, then the Amethyst mines in Brazil are considered to be the best in the world and as long as you don’t mind roughing it a little, you’re sure to have a great adventure visiting the local artisan miners.
AMETHYST CRYSTAL HEALING
Gemstones are as old as time and in the years since their first discovery they’ve picked up a lot more than adoring collectors and fascinated mineralogists. Many have gained stories regarding their legend, lore and healing properties, and whilst there’s no evidence to suggest that any of these properties are real, it’s still interesting to explore the esoteric side of Mother Nature’s miracles. It’s worth asking ourselves, “If you truly believe in something, does that mean it’s true”? Scientifically, the answer is no, but what about on a more personal, spiritual level? If you really truly believe that an item in your house is having an effect on you, are you more likely to feel that effect? It’s really not for us to say, but it’s a very interesting concept that deserves further research. Once again though, we must point out though that no studies have ever found any therapeutic effects or properties in gemstones, and the following is for your information only.
Amethyst is considered by some to be a symbol of peace of mind and modesty. Some believe that Amethyst holds powers to change anger to tranquillity and it is used by crystal healers to revert negative energy into positive energy. Its popularity has been linked with its perceived healing and meditative powers and is thought to purify the mind, body, and spirit, helping to realign the chakras. It is also associated with the zodiac sign Pisces.
WHERE IS AMETHYST MINED?
- Moroccan Amethyst
- Rose De France Amethyst
- Zambian Amethyst
HOW TO CLEAN AMETHYST
Amethyst is a relatively tough gem so it can be cleaned with warm soapy water (mild washing up liquid will suffice) and a soft cloth or brush. Remember to clean the bottom of the stone as dirt trapped on the underside will stop some light from getting into the stone and may make it appear more dull than usual. Never use harsh household cleaners on Amethyst. Cleaning your Amethyst jewelry is easy and you can always buy specialist jewelry cleaning cloths to help.
WHERE TO BUY AMETHYST
The wonderful thing about Amethyst, and indeed all gemstones, is that when you take ownership of a piece, your stone has been forming deep within the earth for millennia but its journey only really begins when it is selected by us and chosen by you. if you are interesting Just contact us at [email protected] and we will be happy to help. 🙂