Amethyst is well suited to be February’s birthstone. Legend has it that the patron saint of romantic love, Valentine, wore an amethyst carved with the image of Cupid. Once reserved for the rich and powerful, amethyst has since become a favorite in jewelry. Because amethyst is so ubiquitous in the gem world, it can be easy to take its beauty for granted. It’s worth taking a closer look at amethyst, and the luxuriousness of its richly purple depths.
A parcel of African Amethyst. This is one of our favorite gemstones to set into our vintage and estate mountings.
Characteristics of Amethyst
Amethyst is part of the quartz family and is a seven on the Mohs hardness scale. It ranges in color from the palest lilac to the deepest midnight purple. Amethyst’s ideal color is called “Deep Siberian,” a primary purple hue with secondary flashes of blue and red. While amethyst is a common stone and found in many locations throughout the world, the best amethysts are found in Siberia, Sri Lanka, Zambia and Brazil. Most of the faceted amethyst in the market is eye-clean, meaning it lacks visible inclusions. When sourcing our stones for Market Square Jewelers, we seek evenly saturated, deeply colored stones with intense flash and shine.
Amethyst History and Lore
This gem’s name derives from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning “not drunk.” Legend has it that if you drink from an amethyst goblet, you will be able to drink the entire evening without feeling the affects of the alcohol. Likely it is amethyst’s purple color that led to an association with grapes and wine, and the Greek god Bacchus. Deep purple has long been associated with wealth and power, and amethyst was a favorite among monarchs and bishops throughout history. Once as rare as rubies and emeralds, amethyst was out of reach for the everyday person, until large deposits found in Brazil flooded the market in the 19th century.
Amethyst is also believed to guard against addiction and was used for centuries to cure hearing disorders, insomnia, headaches, and other pain. Sources attribute amethyst to balance mental disorders and to bring peace, courage, and protection to the wearer. Some people believe the stone can act as a warning sign, growing pale if physical or mental sickness or danger is approaching.
Amethyst is found in a wide range of sizes, tones, and price points, making it perfect for use in jewelry. Large specimens make fabulous cocktail rings, often without breaking the bank. Because most gem quality amethyst is free of visible inclusions, you can easily find perfectly matched amethyst in tennis bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. With all its beauty, history, and symbolism, amethyst jewelry is an important addition to any collection. Click here to shop Market Square Jewelers’ collection of antique, vintage, and modern amethyst jewelry.