Amethyst has been a prized gem for centuries. It is the birthstone for Pisces and the month of February, and the gemstone for the 6th anniversary of marriage. The stone is included in royal collections all over the world, from ancient Egypt to the British crown jewels. The Smithsonian has an amethyst that weighs 400 pounds! Ancient civilizations prized the stone more than many gems, which today, enjoy more recognition and value, including the sapphire and the ruby. In olden times, Amethyst saw its place in the Christian church, worn on Bishops' rings. The royal purple color used to symbolize Christ. Saint Valentine was thought to wear a ring set with an antique Amethyst carved with an image of Cupid. The stone is also a symbol of Saint Matthias. There are a number of Biblical references to the amethyst. It was also one of the twelve precious stones in the high priest Aaron's breastplate. The twelfth foundation of the Holy City was built of amethyst. For some time, true amethyst was valued equally with the diamond. Then great finds in South America and elsewhere made it more plentiful. As its rarity decreased, so did its price.
According to Greek mythology, Amethyst was a young virgin who became the object of wrath of the Greek God Dionysus after he became intoxicated with red wine. When Amethyst cried out to Goddess Diana for help, she immediately turned the girl into a white, shimmering stone (quartz). When Dionysus realized what had happened and felt remorse for his actions, his tears dripped into his goblet of red wine. The goblet overturned, and the red wine spilled all over the white rock, saturating it until it became the purple quartz that is now known as Amethyst.
The name amethyst derives from the ancient Greek word amethustos, meaning sober. It was said that an amethyst could prevent the bearer from becoming excessively drunk and also instills a sober and serious mind. It was believed that if a person drank from a cup or goblet made entirely of amethyst, he or she would not get drunk at all. In Greek mythology, amethyst was rock crystal dyed purple by the tears of Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry. Ancient Egyptians used the stone as the representative of the zodiac sign of the goat. The goat was considered the enemy of vines and vineyards, and therefore the antidote of wine.
Amethyst has been thought to have many attributes throughout history, and all of them are good. The stone was thought to control evil thoughts, quicken intelligence, make a shrewd man in business, preserve soldiers from battle wounds, aid the warrior to victory, help the hunter in search of his game, protect the wearer from contagious diseases, and put demons to flight if the figure of a bear is inscribed on the jewel. Amethyst was known as a gem that would bring forth the highest, purest aspirations of human kind. Chastity, sobriety, and control over one's thoughts were all attributes heightened by wearing the stone. The gem would guard against the anger of passion, and the violent or base nature of its wearer. The stone encouraged calm, bravery, and contemplation.
Amethyst has religious connotations, as well. It was one of the twelve stones that adorned the breastplate of the high priest Aaron (Exodus 39). Amethyst later has stood for the tribe of Dan, one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Apostle Matthias and the Guardian Angel Adnachiel spirit are associated with Amethyst, as well. During the Middle Ages, Amethyst stood for piety and celibacy and was therefore worn by members of the Catholic Church clergy and was used to adorn crosses.
During the Renaissance, Amethyst has stood for humility and modesty. Throughout the ages, powerful and rich monarchs have used Amethyst as a symbol of royalty, and some Amethysts even decorate the British Crown Jewels. Rumor has it that Amethyst was a personal favorite of Queen Catherine the Great of Russia.
Historically, the stone was believed to assist prophecy and visions and to bring riches and powers to its owners. It has always been associated with the civil and religious classes that have ruled human cultures. In the Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, the amethyst enhances the wealth corner focusing on the giving and receiving of material wealth. At the highest level, amethyst bestows the spiritual understanding required to reach the state of bliss. It is associated with the crown chakra at the top of the head where divine essence enters. It is a good stone to solve discord, suggested for children and warring relatives. In Renaissance magic, an amethyst engraved with the image of a bear was worn as a protective amulet. In Graeco-Roman times, rings of amethyst set in bronze were worn as charms against evil, and magical cups carved from amethyst banished sorrow and evil from all who drank.
For centuries, amethysts have been thought to be an excellent remedial for many ailments. Hundreds of years ago, the amethyst was moistened with saliva and rubbed on the face to banish pimples and rough skin. Today it is used in spells designed to magnify beauty. In traditional Chinese medicine, amethyst is prescribed for stomach pains and bad dreams. It may also be used for the healing of illnesses of the lungs. It is believed to help detoxify the body and can be most useful in cleansing the pectoral region. Amethysts are valuable in treating the central nervous system as well as the brain. When worn close to the head, as in a pair of amethyst earrings, not only are they said they alleviate a headache, but they will also help clear one's thinking process, allowing one to process information more efficiently. It is believed to loosen blocks in the mind where mental functioning has become confused and undirected, and frees the way to clearer thinking. They are also believed to help people who suffer from a faulty memory.
Amethysts are recommended to those who deal with stress a lot, such as people with an excessive work ethic who are unable to enjoy relaxation. This quality is also believed useful when treating insomnia too. Amethysts also help those who are prone to depression and an overall melancholy feeling. Many also believe that amethysts are useful for those working to transcend chemical dependence. The stones may work as talismans to provide inner strength when battling dependency. Amethyst is believed to target the pituitary gland, which directs the endocrine system, the pineal gland, where altered states of consciousness and psychic skills are thought to be triggered, and the entire cerebral cortex in the brain. It is therefore felt to be a tonic for headaches, mental illness, anxiety, concussions, and depression.
Amethysts are also used for natural healing. It is a stone steeped in ancient magic and is as popular today as it was two thousand years ago. If placed beneath a pillow or worn to bed, it supposedly drives off insomnia and nightmares. It also produces a peaceful sleep with pleasant, healing, and often prophetic dreams. However it will also ensure that its wearer doesn't oversleep. It is a spiritual stone, with no negative side effects or associations with violence, anger or passion. It is a stone of peace. It calms fears, raises hopes, lifts the spirits, and promotes thoughts of the spiritual reality behind our lives. It wards off guilt and self deception, curbs overindulgence, and bestows good judgment. It calms emotional storms and in situations of potential danger, it will come to your aid. It also lends courage and is a powerful amulet for travelers. Worn, it protects against thieves, harm, sickness, and danger.
Amethyst is cleansing, both physically and psychologically. It promotes internal balance and harmony and brings stability to the individual. Amethysts are capable of raising ones spirits, promoting self assurance and confidence. They brighten the outlook on life and enhance the sense of humor. The virtues of amethyst include beauty, calm, fulfillment, humility, a loving demeanor, perfection, piety, sincerity, spiritual balance, tranquility and wisdom. Amethyst is often worn during contemplation or placed on simple meditation altars. It is worn during psychic acts and since it is a stone of wisdom, it allows the information received through the psychic mind to be appropriately utilized. The stone also helps sharpen the conscious mind and enhances the mental powers. It is used to improve memory and keeps thoughts in line with life goals. It is a stone of pure, true, emotional love. It is often exchanged between two lovers to strengthen their commitment. It is also one of the few stones specifically prescribed for men to use for attracting women. It supposedly draws "good women"" to love him. The stone is also used by those involved in lawsuits to ensure that right is done. It has been long thought to bring success to businesses."
The typical color of an amethyst boasts the color of royalty, a rich violet-purple. It comes in all shades of purple, lilac and mauve. It is a variety of quartz, the most highly prized variety. The natural abundance and infinite variety of quartz have made it the most widely used of all gem minerals. It is often found in the form of six sided crystals. It occurs in many igneous and metamorphic rocks, particularly granite and gneiss. The physical properties of amethyst vary greatly from one location to another. Experts can tell where an amethyst is from just by looking at it.
Amethysts from Veracruz, Eastern Mexico, tend to be very pale, while specimen from Guerrero, Southwest-Central Mexico, tends to be very brightly colored. The color of an amethyst is very unstable and can diminish with protracted exposure to sunlight. Pale stones may be set in a closed setting with a backing of foil to enhance the color. The purple color of the stone actually comes from iron impurities within. Deep rich purple colors are the most valuable kind. Amethysts are graded, with the best-quality, darkest specimens called "Siberian,"" regardless of where they are from. Mid quality stones are ""Uruguayan"" and lesser quality specimens are ""Bahain."" Pale stones are called ""Rose of France."" Amethysts have a hardness rating of 7."
Amethysts are found mostly in Western India, Southern Brazil, Uruguay, Madagascar, the United States, Soviet Union, Australia, South Africa, Southwestern Sri Lanka, South America and Africa.
Sunlight and exposure to heat causes the color of amethysts to deteriorate. Avoid any contact with chemicals such as household cleaners or hairspray. To clean, use a soft toothbrush or cloth and a solution of mild dish soap and warm water to gently scrub the stone. You may also clean it with an at-home ultrasonic unit.