February Birthstone: Amethyst. February Birthstone Color is Purple.
By Devorah Isenberg , Monday, August 22, 2011
What is the perfect present you can get for someone with a February birthday? If you answered, the world’s best hangover cure, you might just be in the market for a piece of jewelry made with February’s birthstone, the amethyst. Wait--what is February’s birthstone, you’re probably thinking, and how does it prevent hangovers? The truth is, while the amethyst is a beautiful stone that makes a lovely jewelry gift, it does not have the magical anti-hangover properties that people once believed it did.
Diamond ring with amethyst center stone
The birthstone for February, the amethyst is a purple variety of the common mineral quartz which is often used in jewelry. Amethysts are associated with qualities like spirituality, wisdom, sobriety and security, but for most February birthstone buyers, the most important quality of the amethyst is its color. The amethyst’s deep purple tone is so rich that even more expensive gemstones are often compared to its color. However, there is a wide range of purple hues available, and amethysts are available at a range of price points. Believe it or not, the name for this sparkling birthstone of February is derived from a Greek phrase meaning “against drunkenness.” Wearing or carrying an amethyst was believed to ward off drunkenness and its unpleasant after-effects.
Another unique quality about the amethyst is its crystal structure. Amethyst naturally occurs in long prismatic crystals that have a unique shape and a sparkling appearance even before they are cut and polished. Geodes containing clusters of amethyst crystals are popular decorative items. However, not all amethysts are alike: every mine produces its own form of amethyst crystals with a unique shape, inclusions patterns and formations.
Here are just a few of the world’s most renowned amethyst mines. Although each produces unique gems with a different appearance, the February birthstone color remains constant throughout the world.
•Vera Cruz, Mexico — Amethysts from this mine are very pale and clear, often with the ghostly appearance of having a clear quartz interior and an amethyst exterior.
• Guerrero, Mexico — Some of the most pricey amethysts in the world are produced in this mine. Gems from Guerrero are deep purple, with radiant prismatic crystals and a purple interior layered with white quartz.
• Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul, Bahaia, Brazil — Amethyst from these locations tend to form in crusts that line the inside of volcanic rocks. Gaps in the volcanic rock are often host to large accumulations of the crystal, which is usually light or medium in color with green edges.
• Maraba, Brazil — Although the crystals found in this location are often large with uneven surfaces, once they are polished and cut, the inner purple amethyst can often be revealed to beautiful effect.
• Thunder Bay, Canada — Amethysts from Thunder Bay have a distinct red inclusion just below the surface.
• Uruguay — Unique to this mine are crystals with consistent, even coloring throughout, as well as accompanying agate crystals that can be multicolored.
• Africa — Amethyst crystals from Africa are generally so large that they can be sliced and placed on display instead of being used in jewelry.
• North Carolina, USA — Clusters of crystals found here have a highly desirable bluish-violet tint.
• Ural Mountains, Russia —T he world’s finest amethysts are found here. Russian amethysts tend to be very clear and dark, suitable for cutting into fine gemstones.
Of all the birthstones, February’s is certainly the most regal. The color purple has traditionally been associated with royalty, so amethysts have historically been associated with kings and queens as well. At a time when purple dye was extremely expensive, wearing a purple garment signaled that the wearer was powerful and wealthy—and the same applied to purple gemstones like the amethyst. Amethysts were set not only into jewelry but into crowns, scepters and battle armor as well as religious ornamentation like crosses and rosaries. Today, the affordability of the amethyst distances it from its royal roots, but the powerful color and sparkle of the stone can still give the wearer a regal sense of self-confidence. Even today, the amethyst is used as amulet for those seeking to overcome addiction, much like the anti-intoxication effects it was once thought to possess.
What’s the birthstone for February’s story? How did it acquire its mythological meaning? In Greek mythology, a maiden named Amethystos rebuffed the attention of Dionysus, the god of wine. She prayed to the gods to keep her chaste, upon which she was turned into a white stone. In mourning, Dionysus poured wine over the stone, turning it purple. This romantic story gives depth and meaning to the amethyst’s romantic appeal—making it the perfect gift for anyone, at any time of the year.
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