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Amethyst is one violet variety of quartz normally used in jewelry. Its name comes from two Ancient Greek words “a-methustos” which can be loosely translated to mean “not intoxicated“. This was in reference to the myth that it offered its owners protection against drunkenness. The Romans and ancient Greeks wore amethyst and had their drinking vessels made of it due to their belief that it prevented intoxication. It is also the official traditional birthstone for the month of February. In different cultures, it had varied miraculous powers attributed to it. Some believed that it protected their crops against locusts and tempests, brought good fortune in war, drove away evil spirits and inspired intellect. Gemstone therapists say that it has a cleansing and sobering effect. It has also been believed to neutralize excess stomach acid besides beautifying the skin. Pliny, in his works, postulates that if worn on the neck using a dog’s hair cord then one would be protected against snake bites. Hieronymus, later on, reported that he had observed eagles place this quartz in their nests to protect their young ones from danger.
This amazing February Birthstone, Amethyst is also a stone of great friendship and found its way to the Catholic Church clergy centuries ago because it was believed to put its wearer in a pure frame of mind apart from symbolizing trust and piety. It was worn by bishops and cardinals and at the Pforzheim Jewellery Museum, one can find it in the prelates’ crosses and the Papal Ring.
This beautiful crystal quartz changes color on heating, for instance, at temperatures as low as 250 degrees, the smoky stones transform to a shining yellow or brownish-brown while the clear ones transform to yellow or slightly colorless at around 400 degrees. Some are pale in daylight, but they can be re-colored through the use of radium radiation. One should not wear amethyst jewelry while sunbathing, when in a solarium or discotheque with black background light since it will lose its color. The stone should not be exposed to sudden changes in temperature as this may harm it. This gemstone is found all over the globe, but with significant deposits in Southern Brazil, Uruguay and Madagascar. Aztec graves had some good specimens which unfortunately had no known deposit source. Amethyst Harbor in Canada has ample quantities of the violet quartz but is low in gemstone quality. The German gemstone headquarter, Idar-Oberstein gained popularity because of domestic raw material supplies from the Zillertal Alps which was exhausted and now it sources its raw materials from South America. Russia had beautifully colored amethysts that shone magnificently even when exposed to artificial light, mined from the Urals during winter. The Tibetan culture had rosaries made of this gemstone dedicated to Buddha and was believed to promote clarity of one’s mind.
In recent times there have been more finds of this ancient gem. In the Rio Grande do Sul, for instance, a large almond weighing eight tones was discovered and it had on it large pieces of dark-violet amethysts some even weighing 200 kilograms. In 1993 in the USA there was a ruse that was found and had over 1000 kilograms of this gemstone, with some in 19 cm long crystals. Uruguay produces the most beautiful gemstones of this kind which are very deep in color. Its value is always dependent on the collector’s demand but generally seems to be placed way below the highest grades of sapphires and rubies.