Part of a series of articles about birthstones.
If you were born in February, you are blessed with amethyst as your birthstone. Amethysts are also recognized as the stone of St. Valentine and symbol of faithful love, so I couldn’t think of a better month to highlight this beautiful stone.
Amethysts are known for their wide array of regal purple hues, with most stones ranging from light mauve to a deep violet purple. This variety of color has increased the stone’s global popularity.
Amethyst is a member of the mineral quartz family, the second most abundant material found in the Earth’s crust. It is the most expensive variety of quartz, which is frequently found inside of geodes. Amethysts can be found all over the world, with the majority being mined from volcanic rock in Africa, Brazil and Uruguay. It can also be found in parts of Zambia, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Canada, Austria, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka and even right here in the United States!
Value for amethysts depends almost entirely on color. The artistry of gemstone faceting can shine through these gems if given fancy and unusual cuts, and there is a current upswing as more people are choosing colored gemstones as a vibrant alternative to diamonds.
Purple amethysts have been highly esteemed throughout history for their stunning beauty and legendary powers to stimulate and soothe the mind and emotions. It is a semi-precious stone, but to the ancient people it was a “Gem of Fire,” and at times in history, was worth as much as a diamond. It carries the energy of fire and passion, creativity and spirituality, yet bears the logic of temperance and sobriety. This gemstone has been worn by royalty throughout the ages, and was once revered as the “Jewel of the Gods.”
In the Middle Ages, if a heart-shaped amethyst set in silver was given by a wife to her husband, it was thought to bring the newlyweds happiness and peace for the remainder of their lives.
Besides the beauty of the amethyst, the stone is believed to be effective in curing a range of health problems including migraines, arthritis, insomnia, withdrawal symptoms, stress and nervous tension, paranoia, schizophrenia, and poor blood circulation. It was also believed to boost the production of hormones to optimum performance.
The name amethyst is derived from the Greek word amethystos, which translated means “remedy against drunkenness.” It was believed that drinking alcohol from a goblet or bowl made entirely of amethyst would allow a person to drink without becoming intoxicated.
If possible, try to avoid wearing natural amethyst stones in sunlight. These stones are sensitive and their color fades in direct sunlight or when put near heat. Amethyst is easy to care for. To clean, use warm soapy water and a soft cloth.
If you’re looking for a birthday gift or a Valentine’s Day gift for that someone special, a beautiful amethyst – the symbol of love – is a sure way to make a statement.
Kristi Cowan, AJP (GIA), is a senior risk consultant at Chubb Personal Services.