Amethyst, the birthstone for February, is a gemstone variety from the quartz family. It is the rich purple color that attracts and excites so many people. It’s well known that the color purple has long been associated with royalty. Since the color itself was naturally difficult to achieve in textiles and fabrics throughout history, only wealthy people and nobility could afford such rich attire. Purple is also associated with the season of Lent in the Christian faith, and George Washington createdthe “Purple Heart” as a badge of great honor and military merit. In Eastern traditions the colors indigo and violet represent the third eye and the crown chakras which relate to emotional clarity and enlightenment.
The name “Amethyst” is derived from ancient Greek = a ("not") and méthystos ("intoxicated"), a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, there are instructions given for placing a heart-shaped Amethyst on the body of the deceased because the specific shape was believed to facilitate a peaceful transition to the next realm. Amethyst is also important in the Buddhist religion because it is one of the gemstones which was said to have significant meaning to Buddha. This is why Malas, which are Buddhist prayer beads, often contain Amethyst. In both the Buddhist and Catholic faiths the gemstone was also associated with celibacy.
The most desirable amethysts display hues ranging from medium to dark with transparent and pure violet color which sometimes display shades of red or blue. Being a popular gemstone with cutters and jewelers, amethysts are faceted into every cut imaginable, more than any other gemstone. The gem is often mined in large and clear crystals allowing for the creation of many beautifully carved amethyst goblets, vessels and sculptures. Regardless of cut, color tones and high brilliance are the criteria that define a quality stone. The lighter lavender-colored Amethysts are often called “Rose de France” and are not as valuable, however they are still faceted and set for jewelry lovers to enjoy.