Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Amethyst – February’s Birthstone


Amethyst is recognized by its alluring purple color that scientists believe comes from the stones natural radioactive properties and its long pyramidal crystals combined with its elemental iron makeup. However, though always purple, Amethyst exists in a wide variety of violet shades and is known to change color both when viewed in different lighting conditions as well as when heated.


Ancient Greeks believed that the Amethyst could avert the effects of alcohol, and crushed Amethyst would even be mixed in one’s drink to accomplish this cause. Amethyst has also been thought to protect its wearer from disease, violence and anger and the stone was believed to endow its wearer with intelligence, sobriety and clear thought.Being a widely available and brilliantly colorful variety of quartz, Amethyst has been used for sculpture and jewelry throughout history. According the Greek mythology, the origin of the amethyst resides with the Greek God of wine and celebration, Dionysus (Bacchus).

Dionysus had become drunk with red wine and wished to inflict his wrath on anyone who did not engage his gifts of intoxication. Infuriated, he decided to take his wrath out on a young virgin named Amethyst. When Amethyst cried out to the goddess Diana for help, Diana quickly turned the maiden into a white, glimmering stone (quartz) so that she could not be harmed. Feeling remorse for his actions, Dionysus began to weep with sorrow, his tears dripping into his goblet of wine. As the goblet tipped and overturned, the tear-laden wine spilled onto the white rock turning it into the purple quartz we now call Amethyst.

The name Amethyst is also of Greek origin, meaning “not drunken”, from a- "not" and methyskein- "make drunk" and from methys- "wine".


In more recent times, Amethyst has served as a symbol for richness and royalty and is still believed to have soothing effects for those who suffer from addictions. It is also the birthstone for the month of February and is used to celebrate both the sixth and sometimes the fourth wedding anniversaries. Bearing a Mohs’ Hardness rating of 7, the Amethyst is fairly hard and remains an affordable and beautiful stone that is widely available in a variety of cuts and jewelry applications. Amethyst rings, pendants and earrings are all very popular and are also available in Black Hills Gold.