Amethyst is the birthstone for February. It is a variety of quartz with a beautiful purple color that ranges from a blend of deep violet and red to a lighter lilac hue. Found primarily in Brazil, Uruguay, and Zambia, it is the second-most abundant mineral found in the Earth’s crust.
Amethyst is said to represent courage, inner strength, balance, stability, peace, calmness, and sincerity. It is said to be able to reduce anxiety, stress, anger, and fear in the wearer.
The word amethyst is derived from the Greek word “amethystos,” which means “remedy against drunkenness.” Ancient Greeks believed it protected the wearer from intoxication and allowed them to keep a balanced mindset.
The popularity of the amethyst dates back to 25,000 years ago in France when it was used as a decorative stone by prehistoric humans. At one point in time, amethysts were in such demand that were worth almost as much as diamonds. Amethyst is said to be the stone of Saint Valentine, who wore an amethyst engraved with the image of Cupid, contributing to the belief that amethysts attracted love. It was also the first gem stone to be carved into the shape of a heart. At one time, only royalty could wear amethysts. Cleopatra treasured her amethyst signet ring above all of her other jewels. Egyptians believed it possessed good powers and placed amethysts in the tombs of pharaohs. In the Middle Ages amethysts were used as a medication, used to dispel sleep, sharpen intellect, and protect the wearer from sorcery.
Mythology attributes the origin of the amethyst to Bacchus, the god of wine. As the legend goes, Bacchus was offended by Diana, the goddess of the forest and the hunt, after she rebuffed his advances time and time again. As revenge, he declared that he would unleash his fierce tigers to devour the first maiden whom he met walking through the forest. A maiden, whose name was Amethyst, was on her way to worship on Diana’s shrine and was attacked by the tigers. After pleading to Diana for help, Diana turned her into a pure white gem to save her. Ashamed by his cruelty and misdirected rage, Bacchus poured his most delicious and sought after grape wine over Amethyst, giving the stone its beautiful purple hue.