The History of the Amethyst


February Birthstone: The History of the Amethyst

Amethyst has been used in jewelry more than 5,000 years old, fashioned to be worn around the neck to bring favor in life or keep the bearer from harm in battle. It is also the traditional gift for the 33rd wedding anniversary.

The beautiful, enduring dark purple stone has adorned royal crowns for centuries. Tyrian purple, a dye made solely from a shellfish off the coast of Phoenicia, was the most expensive dye to create, and the only people who could afford clothing made in that color were wealthy. As the color was more and more associated with the wealthy and the royal, amethyst, which was the only known purple stone, also became associated with royalty and vice versa.

Some modern amethyst pieces sported by the royal and near-royal include Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall's heart-shaped amethyst necklace, which she wears with matching earrings Queen Elizabeth II's gorgeous Kent Amethyst brooch. There are three matching pendants with the brooch and a necklace and matching earrings, but the Queen is most often seen wearing only the brooch. Catherine the Great also insisted on amethysts in all her items.

The scarcity of amethysts kept them as expensive as rubies or other precious stones for hundreds of years. Still, a massive find in Brazil in the 19th century brought amethyst into a more affordable range. 

In the past, during times of mourning & black mourning clothes were insisted on by polite society, the deep purple amethyst was one of the only colored jewels that were permitted. 

The Mythology of the Amethyst

Myths have always swirled around amethyst. Past wearers believed it could prevent them from being poisoned. This myth may stem from the genesis of the stone's name. In Greek, amethystos means "not drunk." Drinking vessels were created from pure amethyst in the mistaken belief that the Greek or Roman drinkers could indulge in alcohol without the after-effects.

Amethysts were mentioned three times in the Bible, cited as the Hebrew achlamah, which brought dreams to the wearer. It was also one of the stones in Aaron's breastplate, symbolizing one of the tribes of Israel.

Tibetan Buddhists also use amethyst beads as part of their meditation, and in Egypt, buried with the dead for protection in the afterlife.

Gifts of the Amethyst

That same magical belief in the amethyst's powers, and the current belief in the power of crystals, speak of the possibility that the amethyst can protect and heal. Some beliefs include:

  • An amethyst under the pillow can bring a fantastic night of sleep.
  • Can tone down anger in your heart and help you feel better about yourself.
  • Amethyst can be used in feng shui to evict harmful energies and placed in an area for protection.
  • Amethyst can provide calmness, balance, and peace are part of the amethyst's power.
  • Amethyst can be used to combat the distractibility of the modern world.
  • It can help clear thinking, as well as clear judgment.

Why the Amethyst is Purple and How to Keep It That Way

Amethysts are a type of quartz that has been irradiated, but not enough to be harmful, just enough to light up the minerals within the rock. The purple color produced by the manganese present within the quartz matrix and the intensity of the stone's color vary due to how much iron is present. Amethysts are the most valuable of the quartz family and are found worldwide, but the only commercially producing amethyst mine is in Arizona.

Be careful; amethysts can fade! Leaving these stones in bright sunlight or wearing them in a UV emitter such as a tanning bed can bleach the beautiful purples. It would help if you kept your amethyst jewelry inside a jewelry box to protect it from UV light. Heat isn't good for color retention either. However, heat can be used, with care and patience, to take a very light purple amethyst and turn it into Citrine. 

Be sure to use a soft bag or cloth to protect it from diamonds or other hard stones, as they can scratch the surface of an amethyst. While the amethyst is durably hard, at a seven on the Mohs scale (diamonds are 10), it can be chipped fairly easily with impact, so it should be stored in the jewelry box if you're off to the batting cage.

Amethysts Mean You Care

Whether you are investing in the powers contained within the amethyst or not, there is little more you can do to share the meaning and appreciation for your February love than giving them the myth and lore of amethyst. What loved one wouldn't want a ring with a deep purple stone letting them know you want them to come home safe? 

Creating an amethyst engagement ring and a matching wedding set for you and your loved one is an excellent beginning for a long and beautiful relationship. At Staghead Designs, we work with you to create a design that is meaningful to you and your love. Please see our collection of engagement rings at Staghead Design to spark an idea for your unique creation.

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