All about Amethyst

Properties

Amethyst is the birthstone for February and perhaps the most identifiable member of the Quartz group. With its gorgeous colour, ability to take a high polish, and its hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, it’s been valued as a gemstone for thousands of years. Along with sapphire, ruby, diamond, and emerald, amethyst was one of the five Cardinal gemstones of the ancient world.

Although deep purple is the most easily recognizable and the most historically valuable colour of amethyst, it naturally occurs in shades ranging from deep purple to pale violet, and even to red-violet. Chevron amethyst forms v-shaped layers of graduated colour.

In jewellery, amethyst is always a popular choice. It’s used both as a faceted gemstone and cut as a cabochon. I also use it in my inlay pieces, such as this Toddle Pendant.

As well as these leaf earrings,

Faceted amethyst is also available as a synthetic. A synthetic amethyst is a true amethyst, but one that is manmade in a laboratory. Because the process is controlled, synthetic amethysts display superior clarity and colour. As no digging, exploration, or excavation is required, they’re both an affordable and an ecologically-sound choice.

Amethyst should not be exposed to extreme heat or to prolonged exposure to sunlight. Extreme heat and UV damage can slowly fade the colour.

 

 

History

Amethyst was highly prized by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. The name ‘amethyst’ comes from the Greek and means ‘not intoxicated.’ Ancient Greeks and Romans associated amethyst with Dionysis (known as Bacchus, in Rome) and believed the gem could protect them from drunkenness. They wore amulets made of amethyst and even carved drinking vessels from it.

The gem has also long been associated with royalty. It was a popular choice for jewels for the nobility, and for adorning religious artifacts in the medieval Church.

Until the nineteenth century, when huge amethyst deposits were located in Brazil, amethyst was considered on a par with ruby and emerald, one of the ancient world’s most precious gemstones. Its status is reflected in museum collections all over the world.

The Royal Ontario Museum has in its online collection a beautiful carved Roman amethyst circa 25 B.C.

The British Museum’s collection contains over five hundred pieces that are made from or contain amethyst. They include beads from ancient Babylon, amulets from the middle kingdom of Egypt, necklaces from the 7th century AD, a medieval altar cross, and Italian fine jewellery from the 1700’s.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art also holds almost five hundred pieces, ranging in age from the first century AD to current times.

The British Crown jewels, kept in the Tower of London, include many beautiful pieces displaying amethyst gems.

 

 

Mythology and Lore

Legend has it that St. Valentine wore a ring with a carved amethyst stone bearing the image of Cupid.

Camillo Leonardi (1451 – 1550), an Italian astronomer and astrologer, wrote that amethyst quickens intelligence and rids the mind of evil thoughts.

Modern crystal practitioners believe amethyst helps to overcome addictions of all types and to aid in good internal function of the body, helping to improve metabolism, assisting with disorders of the digestive tract, easing headaches, and acting as an aid to treating insomnia.

They consider amethyst especially useful for the heart and throat chakras.

Sources

Amethyst: Mineral information, data and localities. (mindat.org)

The History and Mythology of Gemstones in Ancient Jewellery | Ancient & Oriental (antiquities.co.uk)

https://www.gia.edu/amethyst/gem-overview

Intaglio (gem) engraved with Victory writing on a shield – Results – Search Objects – ROM Online Collection

Collection search | British Museum

Search | The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org)

The Top Ten: Royal Amethysts | The Court Jeweller

thehealingchest.com - Amethyst Meaning

Amethyst - Metaphysical Healing Properties (healingwithcrystals.net.au)

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