This regal stone’s violet hues is coveted by royalty as a symbol of strength, confidence and wisdom. Its deep purple tones add a touch of noblesse to any occasion, in fact ancient lore speaks of amethyst inspiring intellect in all who wear it.
Through the ages, various special properties have also been prescribed to amethyst. The Greeks and Romans considered it a strong antidote against drunkenness. According to the ancient Greek saga, the goddess Diana turned a nymph whom Bacchus loved into an amethyst; hence the term Bacchus stone. Anyone wishing to protect a drunkard from delirium mixed some pulverised amethyst into the person’s drink or drank from an amethyst goblet.
Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst could dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence. The stone also is supposed to bring peace of mind to the wearer and prevent fatal poisoning.
In some legends, the stone also represents piety, celibacy and dignity. In Tibet, for instance, amethyst is considered sacred to Buddha and rosaries are often made from it. In the Middle Ages, the gem was an important ornamentation for the Catholic Church and other religions. In fact, it was considered the stone of bishops, and they still often wear amethyst rings. Gemstone therapists believe that amethyst has a sobering and cleansing effect. Amethyst has also been said to quell excessive stomach acid and beautify the skin.
The birthstone for February, amethyst is an extremely popular gem for jewelry because of its variety of sizes and shapes, affordability and wide range of hues. It also is the recommended gem for couples celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary.
The stone is mined in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Argentina, as well as in Zambia, Namibia and other African nations. Very dark amethyst in small sizes also is mined in Australia. But the ideal for fine quality amethyst was set by a Siberian variety, often called Russian or Uralian amethyst, which is now considered a defunct source.
The finest and most valuable amethysts are very clear, with very deep color (and they sometimes exhibit reddish or rose overtones). Some stones are so oversaturated with color they have areas that are blacked out, which can negatively impact their value. Amethyst is available in a wide range of calibrated sizes and shapes, including many fancy cuts. Large fine stones are sold in free sizes but generally the stone is cut in standardized dimensions. Paler shades, sometimes called “Rose of France”, were common in Victorian jewelry. Banding – darker and lighter zones of color – is also a common occurrence. Occasionally, amethyst is even found combined with its sister quartz citrine into a single stone called ametrine.