Amethyst is another ancient gemstone, having been used in adornments and finery for thousands of years. Both Ancient Egyptian and early Greek legends associated Amethyst and its deep purple color with wine. Because of this it has long been used as a talisman, both for protecting it wearer against drunkeness as well as retaining clear-headedness during battle and business.
It has long represented the Royals in the Crown Jewels, and at one time its value was on par with Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds and even Diamonds! Amethyst is one of the 5 Cardinal stones, which, because of their rarity, were reserved for ceremonial or religious use. It makes an appearance in the Bible, appearing as a stone in the breastplate of the high priest, as well as being one of the 12 gemstones that represented the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Amethyst has clearly been fascinating and captivating people for the ages, appearing in myths, legends and literatures that span many different cultures, religions, and time periods. It is also the official birthstone of people born in February.
Metaphysically, Amethyst has retained its legend as a “sober stone”, and is still often worn or carried as a talisman for this purpose. It is also is thought to bring wealth and prosperity to the bearer and has always been associated with the ruling classes. It is also thought to encourage inner strength and to relieve stress. It is associated with the Third Eye Chakra and enhancing spiritual awareness.
Amethyst is a variety of quartz, a 7 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale. In ancient times, Amethyst was mined primarily at a site in Wadi el-Hudi (Egypt).
In the late 14th century, commercial Amethyst mining began in Idar-Oberstein (Germany), though historians have dated mining activities in that area back to Roman times. Today, it is found in many locations all over the world, with characteristics varying depending on the locality. For example, Amethyst found in Uruguay forms in Basalt, and tends to be very dark purple and of the Druze crystal variety:
while Vera Cruz Amethyst from Las Vigas Mexico are long, thin crystal points with a delicate lavender hue:
most Brazilian Amethyst comes from Rio del Sol, and varies in crystal size and in color, from light purple to dark purple:
Africa, Namibia in particular, is also host to several Amethyst deposits, the most famous being the Brandenberg Amethyst from the Brandenberg Mountains:
but there is also high grade gem quality Amethyst to be found in Namibia, suitable for faceting or cabbing:
Africa is also home to a variety of Amethyst that forms in massive seams striped with Quartz, called Cape Amethyst, as well as a unique formation of Amethyst crystals found in South Africa, commonly called Cactus Quartz or Spirit Quartz, that occur when druze crystals grow over a single crystal point:
The largest Amethyst mine in North America is in Thunder Bay, Ontario. It can also be found in many locations in the USA, including New Hampshire, Maine, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.
From a design standpoint, Amethyst pairs well with many other precious and semi-precious gemstones, or it can stand alone with perhaps just a few small sterling silver or gold beads for accent. This versatile stone is available in many different styles, both in beads and in finished jewelry.
From big and bold to dainty and delicate, this mystical and revered gemstone is sure to continue to fascinate and delight for many ages to come!