The Gemstone of the gods
Amethyst gemstone 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.
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. With the mythology surrounding the origin of Amethyst, it is perhaps fitting that it was once considered a talisman to prevent drunkenness, which explains why wine goblets were once made from this gem. Indeed it derives its name from the Greek word ‘amethustos’ meaning ‘not drunk’.
Amethyst’s shades of purple have served as a symbol of royalty throughout history. Pharaoh, kings and queens, as well as leading lights in religious sets have long treasured it because of its rich royal color.
Colored by iron, Amethyst is a variety of macrocrystalline Quartz that occurs in transparent pastel roses to deep purples. Like many other gemstones, the quality of Amethyst varies according to its source. The best varieties of amethyst can be found in Siberia, Sri Lanka, Brazil and the far East. Amethyst from the Americas can be found in large sizes as opposed to African Amethyst (typically mined in Madagascar), which is small but carries a higher saturation in color. Dark, highly saturated, Amethyst is also found in Australia.
Of very variable intensity, the color of amethyst is often laid out in stripes parallel to the final faces of the crystal. One aspect in the art of lapidary involves correctly cutting the stone to place the color in a way that makes the tone of the finished gem homogeneous. Often, the fact that sometimes only a thin surface layer of violet color is present in the stone or that the color is not homogeneous makes for a difficult cutting.
Rose de France Amethyst (also known as Lavender Amethyst) is the name for Brazilian Amethyst of a pastel lilac pinkish hue. Rose de France Amethyst was a very popular Victorian gem and while Rose de France Amethyst frequently appears in antique jewellery, it is currently experiencing a revival in popularity as a part of a general awakening to the beauty of pastel gems.