Amethyst ~ February Birthstone
Colour: Violet - purple
Name: From Greek "a-methystos", meaning not drunk.
A variety of Quartz
A violet to purple variety of quartz that owes its color to gamma irradiation (Berthelot, 1906) and the presence of traces of iron built into its crystal lattice (Holden, 1925). The irradiation causes the iron Fe(+3) atoms that replace Si in the lattice to lose an electron and form a [FeO4]0 color center (Lehmann and Moore, 1966).
Amethyst is produced in abundance from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil where it occurs in large geodes within volcanic rocks. Many of the hollow agates of southwestern Brazil and Uruguay contain a crop of amethyst crystals in the interior. Artigas, Uruguay and neighboring Brazilian state Rio Grande do Sul are large world producers exceeding in quantity Minas Gerais, as well as Mato Grosso, Espirito Santo, Bahia, and Ceará states, all amethyst producers of importance in Brazil.
It is also found and mined in South Korea. The largest opencast amethyst vein in the world is in Maissau, Lower Austria. Much fine amethyst comes from Russia, especially from near Mursinka in the Ekaterinburg district, where it occurs in drusy cavities in granitic rocks. Many localities in south India yield amethyst. One of the largest global amethyst producers is Zambia in southern Africa with an annual production of about 1000 tons.
Amethyst occurs at many localities in the United States. Among these may be mentioned: the Mazatzal Mountain region in Gila and Maricopa Counties, Arizona; Red Feather Lakes, near Ft Collins, Colorado; Amethyst Mountain, Texas; Yellowstone National Park; Delaware County, Pennsylvania; Haywood County, North Carolina; Deer Hill and Stow, Maine and in the Lake Superior region of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Amethyst is relatively common in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Nova Scotia. The largest amethyst mine in North America is located in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Visit gemdat.org for gemological information about Amethyst.
Amethyst is a busy stone. Ruled by the planet Jupiter, it’s the zodiacal gem for those born under the sign of Pisces. Both traditional and modern birthstone lists include amethyst as the February birthstone.
Gorgeous purple amethysts have been prized since the time of the ancient Greeks (The term Ancient, or Archaic, Greece refers to the time three centuries before the classical age, between 800 B.C. and 500 B.C.—a relatively sophisticated period in world history). Because of their grape-like color, the Greeks associated these gems with the wine god, Bacchus. They believed that wearing an amethyst could protect you from drunkenness—in fact the word amethystos meant “not drunk” in ancient Greek. According to gemstone lore, amethyst jewelry keeps its wearer clear-headed and clever. Artist Leonardo da Vinci wrote that amethysts enhance intelligence and protect against evil thoughts. According to Greek mythology, Amethyst was a young virgin who became the object of wrath of the Greek God Dionysus (Roman name: Bacchus) after he became intoxicated with red wine. Bacchus. Angered since he’d just suffered some slight, he’d vowed to take revenge on the next person he met. He spied the maid Amethyst and unleashed his two guardian tigers upon her. As the great beasts bounded towards the hapless lass, the goddess Diana intervened. When Amethyst cried out to Goddess Diana for help, she immediately turned the girl into a white, pure and clear shimmering stone (quartz). When Dionysus realized what had happened and felt remorse for his actions, his tears dripped into his goblet of red wine. The goblet overturned, and the red wine spilled all over the white rock, saturating it until it became the purple quartz that is now known as Amethyst. The ancient Greeks wore amethyst and carved drinking vessels from it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.
Many cultures find spiritual overtones in amethysts. Often viewed as a stone of peace, some believe amethyst’s calming presence produces soothing dreams. In medieval times, Amethyst was often placed under one’s pillow to cure insomnia and bring pleasant dreams by bringing the dreamer more in tune with the Divine. This clarity and peacefulness also extends to the waking mind. Amethysts are said to help the mind flow freely in both mental and metaphysical dimensions. Many psychics keep this gem with their tarot cards or other oracular instruments. The ancient Egyptians believed Amethyst could keep a person from being poisoned.
Amethyst was also said to enhance courage and creativity, to promote intuition, psychic development and even self esteem, to deflect anger and protect the wearer against evil. Traditionally, Amethyst is associated with royalty and luxury.
Medieval churchmen used Amethyst rings and jewels to promote divine revelations and wisdom. In olden times, Amethyst saw its place in the Christian church, worn on Bishops’ rings. The royal purple color used to symbolize Christ and high spirituality (clairvoyance). Saint Valentine was thought to wear a ring set with an antique Amethyst carved with an image of Cupid. The stone is also a symbol of Saint Matthias. There are a number of Biblical references to the amethyst. It was also one of the twelve precious stones in the high priest Aaron’s breastplate. The twelfth foundation of the Holy City was built of amethyst. For some time, true amethyst was valued equally with the diamond. Then great finds in South America and elsewhere made it more plentiful. As its rarity decreased, so did its price.
Amethyst is tough and durable, wears well, and gives modern men and women the look of royalty at very affordable prices.