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Amethyst, the February Birthstone, sometimes seems like the stone jewelers have been using forever. It is a “staple” of the jewelry industry… And, like any staple, anything that is always there, beautiful but in the background, Amethyst often doesn’t get the respect it deserves. But Amethyst isn’t just a staple of the jewelry industry, it is more like that lost Old Master hanging in a shadowy hallway at grandma’s house. Not forgotten exactly, but under appreciated until a stranger stops in shock at the wonder of it.
So perhaps we owe Amethyst –and all the February babies– the honor of taking a look at our old friend Amethyst with a stranger’s eyes.
From a scientific point of view there is nothing spectacularly odd about the origin of Amethyst. Amethyst is a Quartz. A Silicate. (Silica is one of the most common minerals on Earth, and it is also one of the most useful substances on Earth.) By definition Amethyst is the purple Quartz. If it is Quartz and it isn’t purple (or at least slightly purplish) it is not Amethyst. By definition there is no such thing as “Green Amethyst.” (If it isn’t purple it has a different name… For instance, “Yellow Quartz” is Citrine.)
Because Amethyst is a Quartz and can thus be found in many different locations throughout the world, Amethyst has an old history of use in jewelry and over the past three thousand years has been set in expensive “Court Parures” as well as more everyday pieces (for those of us who do not socialize with the Emperor Napoleon’s well-dressed sisters).
While Amethyst was used by Egyptians for centuries before Rome grew into a mighty Republic (and then an even mightier Empire), it is the Greeks and the Romans who gave Amethyst its origin story. To the Romans Amethyst was a beautiful girl who had dedicated herself to Artemis, Virgin Goddess of the Hunt, Protectoress of the Innocent. To escape the unwanted attentions of the lecherous Dionysius, God of Wine, Amethyst begged her Protectoress to make her untouchable. Artemis obliged by the beautiful girl by turning her into a clear piece of Quartz. Supposedly the God of Wine, guilt stricken that his unwanted attentions had driven the pure Amethyst to such desperate measure poured a libation of purple wine over the clear Quartz and gave Amethyst her color for all time.
Whether Amethyst was ever a beautiful girl it is not our place to say. But Amethyst is still a uniquely beautiful stone.
We think Amethyst in all its glory is still a wonderful choice for jewelry. And a perfect February Birthstone –and gift– for all the February babies out there.
Looking for some gift ideas for the February baby in your life? You may want to consider our one of a kind Royal Beauty and Rough Amethyst Necklace or our Rough Amethyst and Lapis Lazuli one-of-a-kind necklace.