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Amethyst Jewelry

Purple has long been associated with royalty, and the purple amethyst is no exception. Catherine the Great of Russia dispatched thousands of miners to Siberia to seek out the amethyst in the Urals. For a long while, the finest gemstones came from these Siberian deposits until the supply was exhausted and other deposits were found in Brazil and Uruguay.

As far back as 2500 B.C., the amethyst has been a coveted stone of royals even in Minoan Greece. In the 1400s, a brooch in the shape of the French fleur-de-lis was made of amethyst and was worn for official ceremonies only by the royal family. To feel like royalty today, many don an amethyst and diamond bracelet or a diamond and amethyst pendant.

What is an Amethyst?

Amethyst is a member of the quartz family. In fact, it is the world's most valuable quartz gemstone. It is unique for its crystalline structure and captures attention with its varying shades of violet.

Amethyst Colors

Amethyst can be found in lilac, lavender, mauve or the deepest purple - a shade to fit anyone's taste. Manganese is what gives the quartz a purple hue, but iron is what determines the shade of purple. To get a deeper, more pure shade of purple, amethyst is heat-treated like many other gemstones to achieve the desired color. The most valuable color is a deep purple with fiery rose tints. This fiery stone makes dazzling amethyst and diamond rings.

Where is Amethyst found?

Brazil and Uruguay are where a majority of the world's supply of amethyst come from. Smaller deposits can be found in Russia, Sri Lanka, Mexico and Arizona.

Amethysts are generally formed in silica rich liquids inside geodes (lava) or sometimes as stalactites. They are most often found as crystal clusters and are generally not well developed. In 1900, however, the largest agate found was discovered in Brazil. Measuring 33x16x10, the agate produced 700 carats of amethyst with baseball sized individual stones.

There are very few large cut stones, however. One of the largest cut amethysts, weighing 343 carats, is on display at the National History Museum in London. Most amethysts are much smaller, sometimes large enough for an amethyst ring or pendant.

Origin of the Amethyst Name

Amethyst is Greek for "sober." "A" meaning "not" meaning "intoxicated." Though the mythology of the name varies, Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, pursued a chaste maiden named Amethyst, who prayed to the gods to protect her chastity. To save her, the goddess Artemis turned Amethyst in a statute of gleaming white quartz. Dionysus, as an act of contrition, poured wine over the statue in tribute, staining it purple and creating the first violet Amethyst.

Amethyst Lore, Legend and Healing

Hearkening back to the mythology of Dionysus, the amethyst is said to ward off drunkenness. In fact, in ancient times, they would carve cups from the purple quartz, rather than wear them as amethyst and diamond rings , and drink their wine from the amethyst goblets.

It has also been believed that amethyst brings the wearer piety, protection, and friendship, as well as love, courage and psychic abilities. It is believed to be a healer, used by tribal shaman, and said to relieve stomach acid and insect bites, enhance hearing and cure headaches, as well as facilitate sleep. Some believe an amethyst pendant can help in the treatment of mental illness.

The gem is also said to have protective properties. It is believed that in ancient times, soldiers wore the stone on the battlefield for protection and bravery. Amethyst is also thought to protect against poison and keep evil at bay.

Birthstone for February

Amethyst is the beloved birthstone for February, the ancient Greek month of Carnival celebration. With all the purple-hued colors to choose from, it should be easy to pick out a beautiful diamond and amethyst bracelet that your birthday girl would love. Another special occasion commemorated by the amethyst is the 6th wedding anniversary.

Caring for your Amethyst

Amethyst ranks a 7 on the Moh's scale of hardness, making it suitable for ornamental jewelry, but it can be fractured at a mere 1/15th the hardness of a diamond, so taking care with it is warranted. The best method to clean your amethyst is to soak it in warm soapy water and then wipe it clean with a soft cloth. Cleaners that agitate, like an ultrasonic cleaner, are not recommended. Some amethysts also change color and pale in heat, so keeping it from excessive heat and sunlight is recommended to protect the color. X-ray radiation, however, can return the stone to its natural hue.

Variations of Amethyst

Through heating, Amethyst can produce Citrine, a beautiful yellow-hued quartz. Prasiolite, a green variation, is said to be found by hot springs, though it is most often created through the heating of Amethyst as well. Heat treatment at high temperatures, between 878 and 1382 degrees F, produce green, yellow, red, brown, or colorless varieties of Amethyst.