The gemstone is generally inexpensive because of its widespread availability and numerous global deposits; however, the amethyst that is considered the most precious is the one that maintains its transparency and has none of the noticeable colour zoning, banding and inclusions that afflict cheaper examples of the gem.
Interestingly, citrine is a yellow-to-orange gemstone that is quite rare but is often created by heating amethyst.
The colour purple is traditionally the colour of royalty, and amethyst has been used since the dawn of history to adorn rich and powerful monarchs and rulers. Fine amethyst stones are featured in the British Crown Jewels and the gem was also a favourite of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty.
Because amethyst apparently encourages celibacy and symbolises piety, it was very important in the ornamentation of Catholic churches in the Middle Ages. It was seen as the stone of bishops and they still often wear amethyst rings.
In Tibet, amethyst is considered to be sacred to Buddha and rosaries are often fashioned from it. It was also believed that amethyst is a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why wine goblets were often carved from it.
In fact, the Greek word amethystos translates to 'not drunken', and it's Greek mythology that provides the most enchanting amethyst legend. Dionysus, god of wine and intoxication, was so angered one day by a mortal that crossed his path that he unleashed a pack of fierce tigers to dispose of the intruder.
Unfortunately, a beautiful young maiden named Amethyst was wandering by on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Diana had no choice but to turn Amethyst into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws of the tigers. (With a Moh's scale rating of seven, quartz is extremely scratch-resistant.) Alas, Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his actions, staining the quartz purple and creating the gem we know today.
Amethyst has been in use for thousands of years in magic, healing and psychic empowerment. It is seen as a spiritual stone because its purple colour is the same as that of the crown (head) chakra. It is also believed to calm the emotions and reduce stress, transmit the healing power of the universe and increase psychic awareness. In fact, its qualities appear endless.
Placing amethyst under the pillow is said to help insomniacs sleep better and induce prophetic dreams. Best of all, this amazing stone helps you make your partner love you even more when you give them amethyst jewellery to mark your six-year anniversary.
Amethyst is today used in an array of adornments and is especially popular set in sterling silver. While it is a relatively hard stone, care should be taken to protect amethyst from heat and excessive sunlight as this may cause the stone to lose its hue. Amethyst should be cleaned with warm, soapy water and a soft brush or an ultrasonic cleaner.
Variety of: quartz, silicon dioxide, SIO2
Found: Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Africa, America and Australia
Modern Birthstone: Amethyst
Traditional Birthstone: Amethyst
Mystical Birthstone: Bloodstone
Ayurvedic Birthstone: Amethyst
Aquarius (January 20 - February 18) Garnet, turquoise
Pisces (February 19 - March 20) Amethyst
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