Amethyst, the purple variety of crystalline quartz loved by so many for its purple hue, is both the traditional and modern birthstone for February. Saint Valentine, a 3rd century Roman Catholic and the patron saint of lovers, is commemorated on the 14th of February. It is said that he wore a large Amethyst ring on his finger that had an image of a cupid etched into it. This is how the link to Amethyst and February is derived, making it the perfect choice for both February traditional and modern birthstone.
Amethyst derives its striking name from the Greek word Amethystos which translates to 'not intoxicated'. Folklore around Amethyst weaves back through time, and in ancient Greece, the rich purple colour was likened to the colour of grapes. It was believed that if Amethyst was worn on the body, it would ward off drunkenness. Therefore, the ancient Romans and Greeks adorned their goblets with Amethyst, and rings and other trinkets were fashioned featuring this gem for this very reason.
Before the 19th century, Amethyst was rare, and the price was comparable to ruby and emerald. It was cherished and sought after by royalty. It was the inspiration behind dying royal garbs such as a mantle or the velvet in a crown a rich purple colour. From the 19th century onward, vast deposits of Amethyst were discovered in Brazil, greatly reducing the price and making it much more accessible to the public.
The most significant sources of Amethyst come from Brazil and Uruguay, with the finest specimens coming from Brazil and Zambia. Recently a source was discovered in Morocco which produces a uniquely coloured Amethyst with purple and tones of cranberry.
The most prized classification of this gemstone is Siberian Amethyst. Initially mined in the Ural Mountains region of Siberia, these particular mines were prized for their rich and heavily saturated purple Amethyst with red tones. These mines have since dried up. Siberian Amethyst is coveted by the jewellers of monarchs and high-end jewellery houses such as a Cartier to create expensive, bespoke pieces. To be classified as Siberian Amethyst, the gem no longer needs to come from Russia, but it needs this deep purple saturation. Light coloured Amethyst is referred to as orchid or lavender. Amethyst that displays more reddish tones can be described as raspberry or plum and is called Rose De France Amethyst. The darker purples go by grape, indigo and royal.
Amethyst rates a reasonably high 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it a good choice for everyday wear. This gem is durable and will stand the test of time. If your birthday is in February, choosing an Amethyst to set into jewellery can make that gem just a little more sentimental. Amethyst is also the gemstone that represents the 6th wedding anniversary, so gentlemen, if you are looking for the perfect anniversary gift, Amethyst is it!
The Sapphire Merchant can source a perfect Amethyst gemstone to suit your requirements.
High-grade Amethyst has a reasonable price tag, making larger carat sizes desirable. Contact Gemma today, and we can discuss options.