Since Amethyst is the birthstone for February, I thought I would feature it as the stone of the week. In addition, it is also accepted as the gemstone for the sixth year of marriage. It is the most valuable variety of quartz. If it were not so widely found, it would be much more expensive. Amethyst is also seen in what are called Amethyst Cathedrals. These are huge geodes that have been cut in half to reveal Amethyst crystals. The pictures I found for them are copyrighted, so if you want to see some, just google them.
Amethyst comes in a wide range of shades from pale lavender to deep, almost black purple. Brazil is the largest producer of this gem. Amethyst from Uraguay produces a stone with a deep purplish blue color as does Amethyst found in Arizona. Siberian Amethyst which is still on the market, but no longer mined, has tints of red and blue. This type is hard to find and when you do find it, is very expensive. African Amethyst is a deep, rich purple. It is found all over Africa, but most commonly in Zambia. Smaller, deep purple Amethysts are also mined in Australia. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 7, so it is suitable for all types of jewelry. Some varities can fade is exposed to strong sunlight over a long period of time. This can be remedied by exposing it to X-ray radiation.
The name Amethyst comes from the Greek word “amethystos” which means “not drunken”. In this belief, many ancient wine goblets were carved from this gemstone. It has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs and graves in Anglo-Saxon England.
The most common enhancement for Amethyst is heat treating to deepen the color of the stone. If heated enough, it can produce Citrine and Prasiolite.
As far as the metaphysical properties are concerned, Amethyst is said to magnify right brain and psychic abilities, as well as strengthen immunities while energizing and purifying the blood. It is also believed that it can relieve headaches and improve blood sugar balance. Another belief is that if you place it under your pillow at night, it will give you a calm, peaceful sleep. It is considered a sacred stone in Tibet and rosaries are often made from it.
There are several legends surrounding Amethyst, but this is my favorite.
Dionysus was angered by an insult from a mere mortal, so he created fierce tigers to attack the next mortal who crossed his path. Along came a beautiful, unsuspecting maiden, Amethyst, who was on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. To protect her, Diana turned her into a statue of beautiful crystalline quartz. When he saw this beautiful statue, Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse, staining the statue purple and into the gemstone we know today.