Amethyst is a variety of Quartz and the most valuable of the quartz family compared with Citrine, Rose Quartz and Smoky Quartz. Amethyst is violet in colour and ranges from light pink violet to deep purple. Pale stones are called ‘Rose de France’. The transparent deep purple tone, is the colour that is most highly regarded.
Amethyst is a semi-precious stone and the traditional birthstone for Pisces in February and is also used to mark a 6 year wedding anniversary. The violet colour is produced from iron impurities and trace elements and irradiation of the stone. The hardness of the minerals is the same as quartz – a 7 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, making it suitable for jewellery.
The best varieties are mainly found in Brazil, Siberia, Sri Lanka and the Far East. Amethysts from Uruguay and Arizona have a deep purple-blue colour. Amethysts from Russia, ‘Siberian Amethysts’ are very deeply coloured with tints of red and blue.
Owing to its wine-like colour, early Greek legends associated amethyst with Bacchus, the god of wine. Other legends reflected beliefs that amethyst kept its wearer clear-headed and quick-witted in battle and in business affairs.
Because amethyst was associated with wine, it was believed that amethyst gems could prevent intoxication. The Greek word ‘amethystos’ can be translated as ‘not drunken’. Medieval European soldiers wore amethyst amulets to protect them in battle believing that amethysts kept them cool-headed, and had healing powers. Beads of amethysts were found in Anglo-Saxon graves in England.
Tibetans considered amethysts sacred to Buddha and will make prayer beads from it. In the Middle Ages it was also a symbol of royalty and used to decorate English coronation regalia. Fine amethysts have been set in religious jewellery and royal crown jewels for ages. It was once considered equal in value to ruby, emerald, and sapphire
Because of the abundance of the stone it is usually clean and free from flaws and inclusions giving clarity to the stone.