Amethyst: The History and Meaning of February’s Birth Stone

If you’re a February birthday girl, or are shopping for one, you should know that this month’s birthstone is rich in history and meaning.

Amethyst jewelry makes an excellent gift for women born any time of the year, not just February babies! The stunning February birthstone is frequently featured in many gorgeous fine jewelry designs, and is a popular choice for fashion and special occasion jewelry. For all the details on these gorgeous and symbolic gemstones, read on.

Amethyst Birthstone History and Meaning

Gorgeous purple amethysts have been prized since the time of  the ancient Greeks. Because of their grape-like color, the Greeks associated these gems with the wine god, Bacchus. They believed that wearing an amethyst could protect you from drunkenness—in fact the word amethystos meant “not drunk” in ancient Greek. According to gemstone lore, amethyst jewelry keeps its wearer clear-headed and clever. Artist Leonardo da Vinci wrote that amethysts enhance intelligence and protect against evil thoughts.

Because of its rare beauty and the expense it took to create the color for fabric, purple has long been considered a regal color, so amethysts frequently appear in royal and religious jewelry. Buddhists have believed that amethyst enhances meditation, and the gem is often used for Tibetan prayer beads. Various cultures have associated amethyst with peace, balance and courage, and ascribed to it the ability to cure insomnia and relieve pain.

Until the 19th century amethysts were as valuable and expensive as emeralds, sapphires and rubies, but then a large deposit of amethysts was discovered in Brazil. Although this lowered the gems’ financial value, the trove of Brazilian gems allowed large amethysts to be used more frequently in jewelry. They are often found in eye-catching cocktail rings from the Art Deco and Retro eras.

Colors and Characteristics

Amethysts come in colors ranging from deep purple to the palest shades of pastel lavender and even pink. The most valuable hue is a strong reddish purple shade, but we love every shade of amethyst. Lavender hues look particularly stunning in amethyst engagement rings when complemented by diamond accents. Most amethysts have excellent clarity, with no inclusions visible to the naked eye, and are available in a variety of cuts and carat weights.

A type of quartz, amethyst crystals can be huge, weighing more than 100 pounds, and sometimes form in hollow geodes big enough to stand in.

Buying and Caring for Amethysts

If you’re shopping for a February birthday gift, amethyst jewelry is a can’t-miss choice. Consider elegant amethyst stud earrings, a gorgeous amethyst ring, or an amethyst pendant.

With a score of 7 on the Mohs hardness scale (10 being most durable), amethyst is strong enough for rings and regular wear, but some care should be taken to protect it from being scratched by rough materials. These gems can also be damaged by some acids and alkaline solutions (so don’t wear an amethyst ring while using household cleaners). Clean your amethyst jewelry with mild soap and warm water. Ultrasonic cleaners are safe unless an amethyst has had fractures filled (which is rare), but steam cleaning is not recommended. For more information on buying and caring for your amethyst jewelry, please contact our jewelry specialists.

Final Thoughts

Do you love amethyst jewelry? Whether or not you have a February birthstone, make sure to browse our most sought after amethyst jewelry to find your favorite, and let us know on Facebook, InstagramTwitter, or in the comments below!

Sources: Gemological Institute of America, American Gemological Society

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