Symbolism and Meanings
Peace of mind, freedom from passion and from care.
February’s birthstone, the amethyst, has been a favorite since the ancient Egyptians used it to make cameos. A member of the quartz family, amethysts are generally known for their beautiful purple tones. However, if exposed constantly to light the color can fade significantly, or be darkened when irradiated. Heat may turn the stones to a yellow brown color as well.
Gregorian Birthstone Poem
There is a Gregorian calendar birthstone poem for each month in the year. The February verse is shown below:
The February-born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they an amethyst will wear
—Gregorian Birthstone Poems
Purple has long been the color of royalty, and it is easy to recognize why when you see the amazing hue of the amethyst. Amethyst are easily some of the largest gemstones ever found, the Smithsonian even has one that weighs in at an astonishing 400lbs!
Centuries ago, these stones were considered of far more value than they are today. They were used in Bishops rings, the royal color symbolic of Christ. St. Valentine himself was thought to have worn an ancient amethyst carving of cupid. Ancient Egyptians used the stone to represent the zodiac sign of the goat and since the goat was the natural enemy of a vineyard, it was thought to be the antidote to wine. Indeed, the Greeks thought that if you drank from a cup made in its entirety of amethyst, you would have more clarity and not get drunk at all.
Many things have been attributed to this stone over the years, and none of them negative. It was thought to be a source of protection, from disease to give the wearer strength of mind and to impart purity of thoughts. In the Renaissance age, it was symbolic of humility and honesty, though conversely was also used by royalty even in their crown jewels.
Today the amethyst is the traditional birthstone for February as well as the gemstone for the 6th marriage anniversary.
Amethysts are found all over the world, and in a multitude of shades and sizes. Although there is still a rare form of them to be had in the highest grade and rarely found Deep Russian amethyst. The highest grade of amethyst is not on par with that of a similar grade ruby, it is still highly coveted by collectors and can be very expensive.
The dictionary.com definition of Amethyst is:
“a purple or violet quartz, used as a gem.”
Origin of the word Amethyst
The Greek origin word for Amethyst, ‘amethystos’ comes from ‘ἀ’ (a) meaning ‘not’ and ‘μέθυστος’ (methustos) meaning intoxicated.
Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz. It is silica, specifically, silicon dioxide with formula SiO2. It has a rhombohedral crystal structure featuring a crystal class of 32. Typically it’s crystal habit shape is a 6 sided prism finishing with a 6-sided pyramid. It has a hardness of 7 on Mohs scale which can vary with the presence of impurities. It appears transparent or translucent and has a vitreous luster. It also has a melting point of approximately 1650 ºC. (≈3000°F).
Natural or Synthetic
Natural amethysts are still being mined all over the world with the largest deposits still occurring in Brazil in places of high volcanic activity. Synthetic amethysts are made by using gamma rays on clear quartz which has been saturated with ferric impurities. It is impossible to tell the difference between the synthetic and real without advanced testing.
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