For centuries, historians and jewelry lovers alike have been enchanted by the mystique of amethyst, the official birthstone of February. A member of the mineral quartz family, amethyst radiates a wide array of regal purple hues ranging from sparkling lilac to sultry deep violet. Amethyst is associated with spirituality, sobriety, security and wisdom. It is the zodiac stone for the constellation of Pisces and is also the preferred gem to give on the sixth wedding anniversary.
The name amethyst derives from the Greek amethystos, which means “a remedy against drunkenness,” a benefit long ascribed to the purple gem. It’s no coincidence that methy is the word for wine, typically of a color very similar to that of this gem. Amethyst was also believed to keep the wearer clear headed and quick witted in battle and business affairs. Renaissance Europeans thought it calmed lovers overrun by passion.
According to Greek mythology, the stone came about as a result of the actions of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility. Dionysus was pursuing a maiden named Amethystos, who refused his affections. Amethystos prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the goddess Artemis answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethystos’s desire to remain chaste, Dionysus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple. It was believed by the Greeks that all Amethysts originated from this stone maiden.
Primary colors of purple and violet give the amethyst its gorgeous hue, harmonizing beautifully with secondary colors of red and blue. Well-known mining sites for this particular gemstone include Russia, South Korea, Austria, India, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Brazil, Uruguay, Canada, and the United States.