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February Birthstone - Amethyst

Amethyst is the gem of February. The purple stone is a member of the quartz family and can come in colors ranging from pale lilac to a red or bluish billet to deep purple. The amethyst symbolizes sincerity and sacred love.

Amethyst bracelets and pendants
Amethyst bracelets and pendants.

Dating as far back as the Minoan Civilization (2500 BC), amethysts were once valued as highly as the finest of diamonds. This changed when Brazil’s large deposits were discovered in the 19th century. The stone has adorned royal jewelry for centuries, from Ancient Egypt to the British crown jewels. According to ancient Rumor, amethyst was the favorite stone of Queen Catherine the Great of Russia.

The darker, more intensely colored amethysts are more valuable than stones that are lighter in color. Amethyst registers a 7 on the Moh’s scale of hardness.

Amethysts are commonly found in Brazil, Uruguay, South Korea, Russia, India, Zambia, and the U.S.

THE HISTORY OF AMETHYSTS AND THE GREEK GOD, DIONYSUS

Since the dawn of history, Amethysts have been viewed by many spiritual people as being an antidote to drunkenness. The name itself stems from the Greek word, “améthystos”, meaning “without intoxication”.

Edwardian diamond and amethyst drop earrings.
Edwardian diamond and amethyst drop earrings.

According to the Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, it was also the name of a beautiful, virgin nymph who in order to protect herself from the drunken enragement of the god, Dionysus, sought the aid of the Goddess Diana. According to legend, the Goddess saved her by converting her into a piece of clear quartz. In remorse for his actions, Dionysus poured wine over the clear stone, giving the amethyst its color and the quality of protecting its wearers from the effects of intoxication. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and intoxication (known as Bacchus to the Romans).

AN EGYPTIAN HISTORY OF AMETHYSTS

The Egyptians are known for using amethysts as Talismans, often worn by soldiers, to offer success in their efforts and calmness during dangerous situations. According to the Roman author, Pliny, the Magi believed that when an amethyst was engraved with the symbols of the sun and moon, it became a powerful charm against witchcraft. They also believed that the stone gave its wearers success, good luck, and favorability amongst authority figures.

HISTORY OF AMETHYSTS IN THE CHURCH

Due to its frequent use in Episcopalian jewelry, especially rings, the amethyst earned the nickname, “the Bishop’s Stone”. Amethyst rosaries were also common to reduced stress and influence a pious calmness on its wearers. According to religious art, it was depicted as a symbol of alleviating earthly suffering, patience in anguish, and trust that God will be those in death.

The stone was also known as the stone of St. Valentine, who is said to have always worn an amethyst ring carved with the image of Cupid. The stone is also the symbol of St. Matthias and the Guardian Angel Adnachiel.

amethyst claw style pendant.
Amethyst claw style pendant.

Amethyst was also one of the twelve stones that adorned the breastplate of the high priest, Aaron, in the Old Testament (Exodus 39).

AMETHYSTS IN THE MIDDLE AGES

Amethysts were seen as having many mythical properties and uses during the Middle Ages. Many people believed that the stone was capable of detecting poisons by fading in color in its presence. Color changing in amethysts was also a sign of personal danger and ill-health.

Amethysts were also thought to bring out the greatest possible fortune and happiness for a couple when a bride offered an amethyst in the shape of a heart set in silver.

Alternatively, the stone was also believed to provide strength to businessmen and calmness for soldiers.

Leonardo Da Vinci was entranced by the properties of amethysts, believing the stones held the ability to quicken intelligence and protect against evil thoughts.

AMETHYSTS IN CHINESE CULTURE

In traditional Chinese culture, amethyst is prescribed for healing lung illness, stomach pains, and bad dreams. It has been said to have the power to completely cleanse the body, especially in the chest. They were also said to alleviate headaches and to make the patient think more clearly.

According to the ancient philosophy of Feng Shui, the amethyst enhances the wealth corner, focusing on the giving and receiving of material wealth.

FUN FACTS ABOUT AMETHYST

  • Amethyst is the official gemstone for Ontario, Canada
  • The Hebrew word for Amethyst, “ahlamah”, means “dream” because the stone was believed to bring good dreams
  • The largest amethyst geode in the world measures 9 ft 10 in long x 5 ft 10 in wide x 7 ft 2 in high and weighs 13 tons (28,660 lb). It is currently displayed in the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Natural History in Shandong, China.
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