AMETHYSTS, FEBRUARY'S BIRTHSTONE!
Happy February, everyone! Time to celebrate Amethysts!!!
History and Lore:
The Amethyst might belong to the month of February, but is a favorite to many and has been used for centuries in jewelry and decor! Its name comes from the Greek word Amethystos, which means “not-intoxicate” and was thought by the ancient Greeks to protect from poison and intoxication. They went so far as to make their goblets and drinking vessels out of Amethyst so that they could drink more, thinking it would protect them from intoxication! Amethyst was also used by the ancient Egyptians as decoration and jewelry, European Soldiers believed it could protect and heal in battle and was considered a symbol for Royalty, and the Romans and Greeks believed in its protective and healing qualities and myths were created about Amethyst in their ancient mythology. In Tibet, Amethyst is considered sacred and is made into prayer beads. Amethyst is prized by all for its lovely shade of rich purple.
Up until the 1700’s Amethyst was considered as one of the more valuable of gemstones, being prized by royalty and thought to be worn in the Breastplate of the High Priest in Christianity. However after some deep-pocketed mines were discovered around that time the rarity value was lost and now they are quite affordable.
Where do they come from?
Amethyst comes in a violet to deep purple color and is a member of the Quartz family. It is found all over the world, but the best and most well-known varieties are found in Sri Lanka, Brazil, and well as the Far East. Some say the most ideal shade of Amethyst comes from Siberia and is known as “Deep Siberian” with rich deep purple with a distinct blue tone to it. Here in the USA you can find it in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and near Lake Superior in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Canada is a huge producer of Amethyst, Ontario is where you will find the largest mine in North America.
Interesting Misnomer:Other colors of Quartz are often called some version of Amethyst but this is actually incorrect as these shades of Quartz have their own names. Prasiolite, which is a soft light green color, and Citrine, which comes in shades of orangy-yellow are the most commonly mis-labelled as a different color of Amethyst. Also, treating the different shades of Quartz in different ways and to different temperatures can achieve the different shades of colors that each other represent, however it is the mineral content of each type of Quartz that gives each it’s true and natural distinctive hue and name.
Like all Quartz, Amethyst is a 7 on the Moh's Scale of Hardness. It is hard-wearing and suitable for rings and jewelry that will be worn that needs to be a bit more durable. Like all gemstones (including Diamonds) they are not indestructible and care should be take that they are not struck as they can split along natural weakness lines that grow within the crystalline structure.
Natural, untreated Amethyst is Dichroic, which means that you are able to view different shades of purple, red, and blue in the stone when viewing it from different sides – from subtle to quite noticeable. The reason this is important is that when an Amethyst is treated is can easily lose this characteristic which takes away some of the vibrancy of the stone itself. However is it worth mentioning that just because you cannot notice a color change when tilting an Amethyst does not automatically mean that it has been treated, but you can definitely keep an eye out and question its origin using this observation though. Heating Amethyst it can turn a reddish brown color that resembles a Citrine and can often be found in shops sold under that name, but it will have lost is dichroic properties and looks quite different than natural, untreated Citrine. This is also a process found with such stones called Ametrine, which is a single stone made of quartz and has a distant line where on one side is purple and the other is orange. Amethyst and Citrine. It is a beautiful stone and can occur in nature, but many of them found these days can be considered as altered by man, one side heated to change the color.
Sunlight can also alter the color of Amethyst, and we should take care to keep any specimens or gemstones out of direct sunlight or bright light sources for any length of time so as to keep the stone from fading.
To this day Amethysts are used in jewelry and in décor, and prized for their metaphysical powers. Beautiful specimens used in rooms can be large geodes or single point spires. Amethyst is associated with the Seventh Chakra and the Lotus Flower, symbolizing being totally open to the Light and Self-Realization. They’re considered to be very gentle on the human spirit yet still a powerful protector and can cleanse a space of negative energy. The deepest and palest of purple in Amethysts are considered the most powerful and when used over your third eye, can facilitate visualization and past life recall, and can also help one to fall asleep easier by placing under or near your pillow at bedtime. This stone can be calming for most people, but with individuals with pent up energy such as children, can actually be energetic. In this case the antidote would be yellow – so Citrine would have use here. Amethysts are known for the Violet Flame of Transmutation, where yin (blue) changes to yang (red), and vice versa. Chinese medicine teaches that when there is an excess of energy, it changes to its opposite. Day becomes night, fevers could be broken with a hot bath, etc. It is the moment of Change, and of Miracles.
Amethysts are wonderful stone to wear as its nature and energy is beneficial and protective. It can be worn when dealing with hostile individuals, and its good healing energy will keep you protected, restored and positive.
The Delhi Cursed Sapphire
The Natural History Museum in London reports the tale of the Delhi Cursed Sapphire. This “Sapphire” is actually an Amethyst and was donated to the museum in 1944 following the death of it’s previous owner, Edward Heron-Allen. He writes that the stone was looted from the Temple of the God Indra at Cawnpore during the Indian Mutiny in 1855. At the time its, then, new owner, Colonel W Ferris of the Bengal Cavary sustained one unlucky event after another, and finally died, and the Amethyst was then passed to his son, and finally Edward Heron-Allen. Several people report tales of suicide, disaster, death and ill-fortune, and while many would like to debunk the tales, there is really never any true way to know for sure. But after packing it in 7 boxes and into a bank’s safe, Heron-Allen, convinced his tales of unfortunate adventures and woe were due to the possession of this Amethyst, instructed that the box not be opened for 33 years after his death. Instead it was donated some 12 months later to the museum by his daughter. Source: nhm.ac.uk
The Swedish Amethyst Tiara
The Swedish Amethyst Tiara is a part of a set in a Parure belonging to the Swedish Royal Family. It has ties to Napoleon and is from the French Court. It is also known as the “Napoleonic Amethyst Parure” or “Queen Josephine’s Amethyst Parure”. The original demi-parure consisted of a set of amethysts in a deep purple color which were quite large, set in gold and surrounded in Diamonds set into silver, and came in necklace, pendant earrings, two bracelets, a brooch, and a corsage ornament. The necklace was large and lunky so Queen Silvia had the necklace attached to a frame and made into a tiara. The Tiara and other items in the set are interchangeable and also can be varied in size, shortening/lengthening lengths and purpose. The Tiara can be worn as a headband and also a diadem, and the corsage ornament can be attached to various pieces changing the look as desired. Here is Princess Josephine wearing the tiara and showing off a gorgeous flash of that rich purple coloring! Source: Tumblr
The Duchess of Windsor’s Necklace:
This is The Duchess of Windsor’s bib-style necklace, and boasts 28 step-cut amethysts, one oval faceted amethyst, and a large heart-shaped amethyst. This necklace also contains rich blue turquoise cabochons and brilliant cut diamonds, all suspended from a rope-like gold chain. Image Courtesy: N. Welsh, Cartier Collection © Cartier Source: GIA.com
The Morris Amethyst Brooch
This beautiful piece, the Morris Amethyst Brooch, lives in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Donated in 1973, this 96 carat Amethyst is set in Platinum and Yellow Gold, and is surrounded in Diamonds. Edwardian in period, the Amethyst is thought to have come from Brazil and was a favorite stone of King Edward VII’s wife, Alexandria. Source: The Smithsonian
This ring, not necessarily a famous ring, is a fine example of a Bishop’s Episcopal Intaglio Ring which would be worn by the Bishop on the middle finger of his right hand, the ring would be very notable to the congregation and contain the engraving of the Seal of the Diocese. Source: Pinterest
For the year of 2018, the Pantone Color Institute had named the color of the year as Ultra Violet! Amethyst is a perfect example of this color and you probably saw a lot of luscious Amethyst Purples popping up in fashion and décor all year. If you’d like to learn more about Pantone and 2018’s Color of the Year, please visit this post. If you’d like to learn about Pantone’s pic for the year 2019, Living Coral, visit this post.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about February’s Birthstone! Amethyst is such a positive and happy stone, and should be a part of everyone’s collection. Enjoy your month, and Happy Birthday, February Babies!!!