February Birthstone: Amethyst
By: Elizabeth Hart
Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz. Once considered more valuable than diamonds, the availability of amethyst keeps this gemstone affordable. Amethysts are known and prized for their deep, rich purple coloring and are often compared to more expensive purple colored gems.
The amethyst is found world-wide with each locale producing unique characterizations such as color, shape of crystal, inclusions, associations and character of formation. Well known amethyst producing districts include:
• Guerrero, Mexico is known for producing deep, rich purple prismatic amethysts that radiate outward from a common attachment. These are some of the most valuable amethysts in the world!
• Thunder Bay, Canada amethysts contain a distinct red hematite inclusion just below the surface of the crystals. Here amethyst also appears as druzy crust lining fissures of metamorphic rocks. Amethysts with these characteristics are also found throughoutNorth America.
• Africa generates amethyst crystals that are known for their size rather than beauty. However, internal color and clarity produce fine gemstone slices and carvings that are admired world-wide.
• Ural Mountains, Russia produces very dark and clear amethyst gemstones that are cut for expensive jewelry pieces.
Deposits of this gemstone are also found inBrazil,Australia,India,Madagascar,Namibia, andSri Lanka.
The terms Siberian, Uruguayan or Bahain are generally used to represent high medium and low grade respectively, regardless of the actual source of the amethyst. Amethysts are usually cut as brilliant rounds to maximize the color distribution. However, other cuts can be used when an amethyst has evenly distributed color.
Amethyst is associated with spirituality, wisdom, sobriety, and security. The name “amethyst” comes from the Greek word "amethystos" or “sober.” In ancient Greecethe amethyst was associated with the wine god, Dionysus, and was adorned on the wine goblets to ward off intoxication.
The gift of Amethyst is symbolic of protection and the power to overcome difficulty and is said to strengthen the bond in a love relationship – making it an ideal Valentine’s gift!