February Birthstone: Amethyst

February Birthstone: Amethyst

Amethyst derives its name from the Koine Greek α- a-, "not" and from the Ancient Greek METHYSKO "intoxicate" meaning Not Intoxicated. The ancient Greeks believed that wearing or drinking from a cup made of Amethyst would protect them from drunkenness. Amethyst therefore was believed to be an antidote against the poison of wine intoxication.

Amethyst is of a silicon dioxide chemical composition. It occurs in trigonal, hexagonal prisms crystal structure. It comes in violet, pale red-violet and purple colors. It has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale. It is transparent to semi-translucent with a glass-like luster. Amethyst also displays a weak bluish fluorescence.

Before 1912, the February gemstones were Zircon (then called Hyacinth) and Pearl. Today the Jewelers of America List accepted Amethyst as the sole and exclusive gemstone for this month.

Amethyst is given on the 6th wedding anniversary. It is also the suggested gift for the fourth and seventeenth wedding anniversaries.

In ancient times, Amethyst gemstones were once extremely rare and highly desirable by the elite and thus highly valued. It was prized more valuable than rubies and emeralds. In fact, Amethyst was considered one of the five cardinal gemstones which were Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire and Amethyst. This all changed at the beginning of the 19th century when large amethyst deposits were found in Brazil and continue to produce an abundance of gemstone quality amethyst even till this day.

"Deep Russia" which is a high-grade Amethyst, is very rare and much sought after therefore it retains a high value. However, the most expensive Amethyst is the Siberian Amethyst which is a deep color variety that occurs with red and blue hues.

Though Amethyst is very affordable now, it still remains the most sought-after quartz variety today.

The hue and tone of Amethyst ranges from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple, with hues of red and on some occasions, blue.

The light colors can be very subtle while the dark tone can be so dark it renders the Amethyst opaque. The reddish-purple colored Amethyst is the premium grade used for high end fashion jewelry.

To describe the different color grades of Amethyst, these following adjectives are used:
"Orchid" and "lavender" for lighter colors;
"grape", "indigo" or "royal" for darker colors; and "raspberry" or "plum" for reddish colors

Amethyst usually occurs with “color zoning,” or with an uneven distribution of color within the Amethyst gemstone. This lowers its value. Lapidaries (people who cut gemstones) make sure to cut it in such a way that the finished product display an even color.

Amethyst is dichroic where it displays two different colors of reddish-violet or bluish-violet when viewed from different angles and different lighting.

When heated the purple color of Amethyst changes to yellow-brown, yellow-orange, or dark-brownish. Citrine is created by heat-treating Brazilian Amethyst. Ametrine which is a mixture of Amethyst and Citrine, comes with purple and yellow color zones and it can also be created by partially heating Brazilian Amethyst.

Amethyst was highly revered in the ancient times. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead Amethyst is called ‘Hemag’ and it was carved into a heart-shaped amulet and placed alongside the beloved dead.

Since ancient times Amethyst has been linked with magic, mystery, wealth, power and luxury. In ancient Rome only the nobility could wear purple. Purple holds the energy and fire of the color red and the mystery and magic and spirituality of the color blue. It is the union of fire and water, the balance of the physical and spiritual.

Amethyst in ancient Rome, was associated with Neptune, and was also considered a February gemstone. Moreover, Amethyst was said to be ruled by the planet Jupiter, the giver of wealth. In the 3rd century of Our Common Era, Amethyst became associated with Saint Valentine and the personification of chivalrous love. Legend says that Saint Valentine wore an Amethyst ring with an image of cupid carved on it.

In Roman Catholic Christianity, Amethyst became associated with Catholic Bishops, who till this day wear an Amethyst ring as a protection against all sorts of poisons of the mind.

Amethyst is also highly regarded in Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan monks have been using the sacred Amethyst crystal as prayer beads. They believed that Amethyst was sacred to Lord Buddha.

Amethyst was believed to give clear thinking and a balanced temperament which helps the wearer succeed both in business and in battle. In the middle ages, medieval soldiers used Amethyst as a protective amulet.

Amethyst encourages chastity of both mind and body, sobriety of mind and body, self-control and control over one’s thoughts, especially the negative types. It encourages calmness, bravery, and contemplation of the good in life.

Amethyst can also help people battling with addictions by strengthening their resolve to overcome alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gambling and sex.

Amethyst helps to calm hyperactive children and people suffering from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorders). It detoxes the body from negativity, especially related to spiritual pollution and demonic influences.

It is a known fact that many physical and diseases of the mind are the results of negative thoughts and negative emotional patterns such as fears and anxiety. Amethyst can be placed on the forehead and let its energy course through the body.

Amethyst was used to cure insomnia and as an amulet against nightmares.

Amethyst is the birthstone for both Aquarius (January 20 – February 18) and Pisces (February 18 – March 20). These zodiac signs' personality traits and spiritual virtues vary from being charming and bold, to being artistic and sensitive.

Amethyst has a good hardness, and thus, can only be scratched by gemstones and other materials whose hardness on the Mohs scale is above 7. However, care has to be taken to store it away from softer gemstones.

Though Amethyst is tough and stable, it should not be exposed to rapid changes in temperature or intense heat for these can fracture and cause the lovely purple color to fade and even change color. It can also be damaged by bleach and metal polishes, by chemical found in dust removers, and by laundry detergent, spot removers and de-greasers.

Amethyst is appropriate for all types and styles of jewelry including rings. Remember that Amethyst is a crystal and like all crystals they can break or chip, so when wearing and cleaning your gorgeous Amethyst jewelry take proper care.

To clean your beautiful Amethyst simply use a soft cloth and soapy water. Remember to rinse well in order to remove the soapy residue from your Amethyst jewelry.

Amethyst is fashioned in every shape, cut and size, usually faceted in rounds and ovals since it has a good clarity. It is also cut in fancy shapes such as hearts, trillions and shields and as ornamental carvings.

Amethyst geodes with beautiful crystal clusters can be found in all sizes even as tall as meters high.

Today the world’s supply of Amethyst sources is found in the rich deposits of Brazil and Uruguay. Other sources of gemstone quality Amethyst are found in Bolivia, Tanzania and Zambia. Nonetheless, Amethyst can be found all over the world including the United States whose largest Amethyst mine is in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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