When people hear the word amethyst, what comes to mind? Smooth, pure jewelry? Rocky, jagged gemstones? The February birthstone? Above all, though, they normally think of the color purple. But the truth is, there is a lot more about the amethyst than the simple fact it’s purple and the February birthstone! Found in varying colors, it can be found all over the world and has been believed to prevent drunkenness and encourage calmness. Made of different substances (including iron) and at one point as prized as the diamond, this is one treasure that won’t soon be forgotten.
It is a fact that the birthstone for February is amethyst, but that’s not the only job the amethyst has served. When six years of marriage are celebrated, it is the gemstone for that anniversary. “Ahlamah” is amethyst in Jewish, and means “to dream.” The amethyst is also referenced a few times in the Bible. In Exodus 28:19, it is mentioned as the third gemstone in the third row on the breastplate of Aaron. Amazingly, it is also referenced in Revalation 21:20 when it is indicated that it will be part of the foundation of New Jerusalem!
Most people are aware that the amethyst is the birthstone for February, but not everyone knows why. In early Egypt, Queen Cleopatra always wore an amethyst ring that was said to draw Roman lovers to her. Believing this to be true, Roman women started wearing amethyst jewelry, having confidence it would assist in keeping their husbands faithful. As a result, amethyst was known as “the stone of lovers,” and since Valentine’s Day is in February, it became the birthstone for that month.
The most treasured and prized gemstone in the quartz family, amethyst can be found in purple, lilac, or mauve, and occasionally has a white streak. As the crystal—which can appear to have reddish or bluish tints from angles—winds on through its average 4-6 inches, the color grows darker as it arrives at the tip. Used in all forms of jewelry, the amethyst’s color is thought to be regal. Some forms of amethyst are polished pebble, crystal slice, oval mixed, or rectangular step. Often, the amethyst also has inside markings as well. Though African, Bolivian, Brazilian, and Siberian are true amethysts, the ones that are Bengal and Oriental are actually purple sapphires. Either way, it is unmistakable that the amethyst is a special and precious jewel.
The amethyst can be found in many places all around the world. Brazil, Madagascar, Zambia, Uruguay, Burma, India, Canada, Mexico, Namibia, Russia, Sri Lanki and the United States is where it is mostly found, though the U.S. amethysts are not usually jewelry quality; Brazil contains the best amounts. However, Austria has the largest amount in one area. Normally, the amethyst occurs around where granite is located and sometimes is color-zoned. It is found in alluvial deposits, which is a water source in which minerals, gems, and crystals are rushed through the waters and then uncovered during slow currents. Geodes, or chambers inside rocks that are edged and lined with gems, are another place to search for the amethyst. But whether alluvial deposit or geode, the amethyst is undoubtedly a worldwide stone.
Made of agate and iron and a member of the quartz family, the amethyst ranks up to a level of 7 on the hardness scale. Its specific gravity level is 2.7. The substances that make up the amethyst are silicon dioxide, or SiO2. Some believe the amethyst’s purple color is due to manganese, but there is no proof behind this. When the amethyst is heated, it turns yellow and brown, appearing like citrine. A lot of people confuse citrine with heated amethyst, and sometimes, gems that are really heat-treated amethysts are sold as citrine mistakingly. When the amethyst is placed in cold temperatures, it can turn a smoky gray. While no one is sure of the exact minerals that predict the amethyst’s color, it is nevertheless still full of amazing compounds.
The amethyst’s value has varied over the years. Unbelievably, it used to be as valuable as the diamond, but after more and more discoveries were made, it dropped in value and price. Today, the amethyst’s value is based of the color, rather than size. Though amethysts of all sizes are easily available, it is the certain colors that are sparse, with the rarest—and most expensive—being the deep Siberian purple. Besides that element, prices on this gem can be cheap or very expensive.
There are a lot of myths, beliefs, and legends behind this amazing jewel. In the church, the amethyst was one of the church officials’ favorites. One thing a bishop would wear was an amethyst ring, therefore the amethyst was referred to as the highest, “bishop’s grade.” It was believed that the amethyst also had sobering elements. Its name comes from the ancient Greek word “amethustos,” which means “not drunken,” or “sober.” People thought amethyst supported and encouraged serious and sober minds; and that if one drank from a cup made of amethyst, it would be impossible to get drunk. Ancient Egyptians used the amethyst to represent the zodiac sign for the goat. Then, the goat was the enemy of vineyards, and since vineyards produce wine, the goat was the enemy of wine, thereof so was the amethyst.
The ancient Greeks, which was the first society to truly acknowledge the amethyst, had a very strange way to tell the story of how the amethyst came to be through a intriguing myth. The myth says that once the god of wine, Dionysus, grew angry as a result of drunkenness and proclaimed that the first person to pass him would be eaten by tigers. When a maiden named Amethyst happened to be that person, she shouted for help from the goddess Diana. Diana transformed Amethyst into a white quartz to protect her from the vicious beasts. When Dionysus saw this, he was regretful and poured his red wine over the quartz, turning it purple, creating the amethyst.
The amethyst also had a high reputation in those days. People were convinced it did many things besides avert drunkenness: they believed it would guard against anger and violence and inspire peace, courage, and contemplation. It was thought to administer evil thoughts, bring out intelligence, prevent soldiers from battle-related traumas, help encourage victory, to aid hunters in finding game. If a person wore the amethyst, they had protection against diseases, and, if the bear sign was engraved in the jewel, would be shielded against demons—or so they trusted. Though these beliefs have never been proven, the legends are yet fascinating.
Treasured, prized, and gorgeous, the amethyst is an elegant, glamorous gemstone thriving in places all over the world, throughout all civilizations, no matter what the value. Cherished by all people of all lands, this agate-and-iron based quartz stone has been adored and protected with stories and myths, and honored by legends. A special jewel in the past and a special jewel in the present, the amethyst will unequivocally live on a special jewel for years to come.