birthstone february


birthstone february
 Amethyst is the most prized member of the quartz family. It consists of silica with some iron and its relative hardness makes it fairly durable.

The gem's characteristic colour ranges from the most desirable deep violet-reddish purple to the more common pale mauve.

Colour is often patchy and visible 'zoning' (bands) of colour, together with any brownish tints may drastically lower its value in comparison to 3 stone with a uniform, deep purple.

birthstone february

Alcoholic revels

According to Ancient Greek myth, the deep purple was created by Bacchus, the god of wine, to avenge an insult.

The angry god declared that the first person he met would be devoured by tigers. A young girl called Amethyst met him on her way to worship at the shrine of Diana the Huntress.

As the tigers leapt at her, the goddess protected the innocent by turning her into a clear, transparent crystal. Seeing her youth and devotion to the goddess, a repentant Bacchus poured wine over the crystal, creating the stone's famous purple hue.

The Greeks also believed that the gem would prevent drunkenness and the name actually comes from 'amethysts', the Greek word for sober. According to legend, it also calmed anger and relieved frustrated passion.

According to Camillus Leonardus, a 16th century authority on gemstones, amethyst made men shrewd in business and instilled a serious and sober mind.

birthstone february

Purple protection

Amethyst was used as a decorative stone before 25000 BC in France and the Ancient Egyptians used it for beads, amulets (protection or charm) and seals. It was the ninth stone in the breastplate of the High Priest of Israel and one of the ten stones on which the names of the tribes of Israel were engraved. In Medieval Europe,

it was worn as a soldier's amulet to protect him in battle. Since that period, they have been set in royal crowns and bishops' rings. There is a huge round amethyst in the British royal sceptre made for the Coronation of James II in 1685 whilst another surmounts the Sovereign Orb. In the 18th century, Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, owned an amethyst necklace.

birthstone february
Loss of status

Russia was the main source of the stone until the 19th century when a huge deposit was discovered in Brazil. Today, Africa and South America are the main sources. Its new-found abundance stripped it of its aura of rarity and, except for extremely high quality pieces, amethyst's previously high status slipped to the level of other more affordable stones available to a mass market.

In 1947, Cartier created a daring 'bib' necklace which was bought by the Duchess of Windsor and decorated with an unusual combination of numerous large amethysts and turquoise, all set in gold.

The stunning piece influenced jewellery for years,

reminding people of the gem's appeal. Today, this versatile stone may be seen in popular jewellery and designer pieces alike. 

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