February Birthstone – Amethyst
Amethyst has been highly esteemed throughout the ages for its stunning beauty and legendary powers to stimulate, and soothe, the mind and emotions.
Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz and is a beautiful blend of violet and red that can be found in every corner of the earth. The name comes from the Ancient Greek, derived from the word “methustos,” which means “intoxicated.” Ancient wearers believed the gemstone could protect them from drunkenness.
Amethyst, as previously mentioned, is composed of quartz, which is the second most abundant material found in the Earth’s crust. Amethyst gets its colour from irradiation, iron impurities and the presence of trace elements. Its hardness (a 7 on the Mohs scale) is the same as other quartz, which makes it a durable and lasting option for jewellery.
While amethyst is most commonly recognised to be a purple colour, the gemstone can actually range from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple that can read more blue or red, depending on the light. Sometimes, even the same stone can have layers or colour variants, so the way the gemstone is cut is important to the way the colour shows in a finished piece.
Amethyst often occurs in geodes or in the cavities of granitic rocks. It can be found all over the world, including the United States, Canada Brazil and Zambia.
For many years, amethyst was held to be one of the most precious gemstones, often favoured by royalty or exclusively by the clergy as a symbol for the deity of Christ. It was even held for many years in the same regard as the diamond. It wasn’t until the discovery of more abundant supplies of amethyst that it became a gemstone enjoyed by more than just the wealthiest buyers.
Many wearers of amethyst throughout history and even today prize the gem for its symbolism as well as its beauty. Leonard da Vinci once said that amethyst helps to quicken intelligence and get rid of evil thoughts. Other qualities like peace, stability, courage and strength are said to be derived from this gemstone.
Today, many wearers simply prize the amethyst for its beautiful shade and the way it complements both warm and cool colours.
How to Buy Amethyst
Whether you’re purchasing an amethyst for yourself or a loved one, you’re making an investment in beauty that will stand the test of time. Amethyst makes a great gift for individuals born in February, or as a celebratory milestone for a 6th or 17th wedding anniversary.
Colour – The finest amethyst is a strong purple or reddish purple, with no visible colour zoning. Any brownish or bronze-coloured tints lower the value dramatically. Amethysts that are a little less saturated in colour are usually more affordable than those with more colour saturation. A light lilac amethyst is usually much less expensive than an intense purple.
Clarity – Almost all faceted amethyst is eye clean; no inclusions should be seen with the naked eye. Material with eye-visible inclusions is usually cut into beads or cabochons.
Cut – It is not unusual to see faceted amethysts of 10 or 20 carats and even larger. Because the gem is so plentiful, matched sets of faceted amethyst are relatively easy to obtain for bracelets and necklaces. The gem can also be found in a variety of fancy cuts and nonstandard sizes.