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Amethyst the Traditional birthstone of February

The amethyst is the birthstone of those born in February. The amethyst is a purple coloured crystal that has held the imagination of mankind for thousands of years. With its colours ranging from lilac to deep purple and the possibility to be cut into a wide variety of shapes and sizes it makes an excellent choice for beautiful jewellery.

As well as its position as February birthstone, amethyst has traditionally been given in celebration of the sixth wedding anniversary.

The History Of The Purple Amethyst

The word ‘amethyst’ is drawn from the Greek word amethystos, meaning ‘not drunken’ referring to a benefit connected with the amethyst for thousands of years, probably from a connection between the stone’s colour and that of wine.

For Tibetans, amethyst is scared to Buddha and prayer beads are often made from amethysts.

In Britain, amethyst has for many centuries been associated with royalty. In ancient times purple was a colour only worn by royalty in their clothing, being called ‘royal purple’. The connection between purple amethyst and British royalty continues that connection.

In Russia, Catherine the Great liked amethyst and had an extensive collection of amethyst jewellery. More recently, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor had commissioned a Cartier amethyst bib necklace for a gala at Versailles in 1953.

Until large amethyst deposits were discovered in Brazil, amethyst was considered one of the rarest of gems. These days, the gem is known to be much more abundant.

Today, amethyst is so abundant that gemstones are no longer the mainstay of amethyst production. Most amethyst is sold in the form of geodes, crystals and tumbled stones.Amethyst is, quite literally, sold by the kilogram or ton.

Meanings and Beliefs

If you were born in February wearing an amethyst is a symbol of inner strength and personal empowerment. Over the centuries a wealth of meanings become attached to the amethyst. In Ancient Greek mythology, the purple gem was linked with Bacchus, the wine god. The Greeks believed that wearing the stone kept the wearer clear-headed, quick-witted and successful in both business affairs and battle.

During the Renaissance, Europeans held that the amethyst could calm the overheated passions of lovers.

The gemstone has been credited with mystical powers. Many people believed that the gem would confer strength and wit to wearers.

Today, even without any scientific basis, many people believe that amethysts have healing powers and millions of dollars are spent on healing stones in the form of crystals, beads and tumbled stones.

Chemistry And Geology

Amethyst is a type of quartz crystal and is, therefore, one of the most common materials in the Earth’s crust. The purple colour of amethyst comes from impurities of iron, and sometimes other elements combined to irradiation from naturally occurring sources. The hardness of the crystals is the same as quartz making it durable in jewellery.

The highest quality amethyst deposits are in the Far East, Siberia, Brazil and Sri Lanka. The highest grade of amethyst is called Deep Siberian with a 75-80% primary purple hue with 15-20% of the overall colour coming from blue and under certain lights, red.

Lighter shades with a lilac/lavender colour were, in the past, unpopular but are becoming more popular today. Amethysts can be treated with radiation to make the stronger colour lighter to suit market demands.

Lower grades of amethyst can be made into a form of citrine with a yellow colour when heated. This crystal is often referred to as ‘burnt amethyst’.

Amethysts can fade under bright light.

It is now possible to create synthetic amethysts by process of growing amethyst crystals under pressure and at high temperature. Synthetic amethyst has the characteristics of the best quality natural amethyst and is very hard to tell from the real thing. Testing is possible but cost-prohibitive.

Use In Amethyst Jewellery

Amethyst jewellery is fabulous for everyday wear, but when used in rings or bracelets it is likely to show wear over the years and will need re-polishing to bring back its original beauty. Necklaces and earrings are much less likely to have problems from the scratching that will affect items worn in a piece likely to be knocked or scratched.

When you buy amethyst jewellery pay attention to the colour, look out for a strong reddish or pure purple without a brown tinge. If the stone has visible inclusions, then the price should be lower than clearer examples. Unlike other gemstones, amethyst pricing is not directly proportionate to the size of the stone. This makes amethyst an excellent choice wherever a striking, large piece is wanted.

To avoid scratching the facets of your amethyst jewellery, clean the piece in a solution of washing up liquid in hot water. Allow the jewellery to soak for a few minutes and then gently scrub with a soft toothbrush, rinse with distilled water to avoid watermarks and allow the stone to dry in the air.

Amethyst is a contradictory stone, it is a wonderful gemstone to cut as a traditional piece of jewellery, but its value is such that one can buy large pieces simply for decoration. The look of a well cut and set piece of amethyst makes an impact upon all who see it, and so it makes an excellent gift for the special person in your life. Some people even choose it for the most important jewellery item such as engagement rings. Choose well and enjoy for years to come and, maybe the traditional beliefs will come true for you as well!

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