The month of February gives us the versatile, affordable and gorgeous Amethyst!
- The ancient Greeks and Romans believed Amethyst would ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, and keep the wearer clear headed and quick-witted.
- English regalia were even decorated with amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty.
- Amethyst is a purple quartz, with a beautiful blend of violet and red that can be found in every corner of the earth.
- Today, while Brazil is the primary source of this gemstone, fine material can be found elsewhere, especially in Zambia.
The birthstone of February is the gorgeous, affordable and versatile Amethyst. Amethyst is a pure quartz crystal that ranges in color from light violet to deep purple, and sometimes red. Although it became semiprecious after the discovery of large deposits in Brazil, history considered it to be one of the “cardinal gems” that loomed above and beyond other stones in value and prestige. The deep purple color of Amethyst was historically associated with royalty and was often featured in the the jewelry of European royal families and the high nobility. Bishops also often had Amethyst rings that related to the sound-mindedness of the Apostles.
There are many myths and beliefs about Amethyst, and most tie into Greek and Roman mythology about the god Bacchus or Dionysus. The legend goes that Bacchus, the god of wine and chaos, fell in love with a mortal virgin. The young woman, Amethyste pleaded to the virgin goddess Diana and the goddess turned her into a pillar of white crystal. When Bacchus saw Amethyste’s sacrifice, he felt remorseful and in tribute to her, stained the crystal a beautiful purple with wine. The stone was usually worn to keep one’s mind sound and combat intoxication. Greeks often poured wine directly into goblets carved of Amethyst.
The value of Amethyst is mostly dependent on its color, with deeper purples triumphing over the faint violets. The most valued color is termed “deep russian” and greatly outweights carat size as a value determinant. One of the most exquisite pieces of amethyst jewelry is the Amethyst necklace owned by the Duchess of Windsor and crafted by Cartier. The Cartier bib-style necklace features 29 step-cut amethysts, a large heart-shaped amethyst in the front, turquoise cabochons, and brilliant cut diamonds, all set in gold suspended from a very strong gold rope-like chain. The necklace was sold at auction for $650,000 dollars in 1987.
With the amazing abundance of Amethyst available, there are thousands of stones to choose from and one of the few gemstones that remains affordable at a large caratage. Also a great reminder for more unique pieces, do not overlook the stone’s natural raw beauty. Get a few jewelry pieces made from the raw crystal for a more boho-chic, wild look. One of my own favorites is a standout amethyst crystal and silver ring, that definitely makes a statement!