Amethyst is a precious quartz crystal gem with a deep violet or purple colour. It is the February birthstone. According to legend, wearing amethyst can stop you from getting drunk and help you attract love.
The legend of St. Valentine
According to old Roman lore, St. Valentine was a priest who travelled around performing marriages. He was known for wearing an amethyst ring carved with the image of Cupid. This is how the tradition of Valentine’s Day started. It is also the reason why amethysts are regarded as symbols of love, and are the designated February birthstone.
What type of gemstone?
Amethyst is a quartz mineral. It’s usually deep purple or violet in colour, but turns yellow when subjected to intense heat. It ranks 7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, making it tough enough to use in jewellery. Because it is available as big, clear crystals, it’s perfect for statement pieces. Brazil is the source of the largest and purest crystals in the world.
Linked to romance and love
The amethyst is a romantic gift gem. Legend says that wearing one can help you attract love and if your sweetheart gives you amethyst jewellery on Valentine’s Day, it proves they are “the one”. It is also the gem for the 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries.
Amethyst kept the Greeks sober
The ancient Greeks thought amethysts could stop you from getting drunk. They carved drinking cups out of the gemstone, believing the crystals lessened the effects of wine. The word amethyst comes from the Greek amethystos, meaning “not intoxicated”.
Old amethyst legends
If you were born in February, amethysts hold special meaning for you. Astrologists say they’ll give you courage, peace and strength. In Medieval times, people believed the gemstone could repel evil thoughts and make you more intelligent, chaste and calm. Sailors used to believe amethyst amulets with a sun engraved on them could protect their wearers from storms. In Asia, the gem is thought to make you more spiritual.
Gem of emperors and queens
Historically, amethysts have royal associations. Once upon a time they were considered just as valuable as rubies, sapphires and emeralds. That’s why you often see them in crown jewels and religious treasures. The Queen of Sweden owns an amethyst tiara that originally belonged to Empress Josephine. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has an amethyst collection called the Kent Demi-Parure.
Amethyst continues to attract modern day jewellery designers because of its beauty and availability as large, translucent crystals. Stars like Katy Perry, Courtney Cox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Kruger and Sofia Vergara have been spotted wearing amethyst jewellery to big award ceremonies and red carpet events.
Buying an amethyst
It can be tricky to know if a gemstone you are buying is good or not. Our gem expert assesses amethysts in the same way as diamonds – by clarity, colour, cut and carat weight. High quality amethysts shouldn’t appear to have have any marks when looked at with a naked eye. An amethyst’s colour should be transparent and vibrant. Always buy yours from a reputable jeweller so they’re authentic and ethically sourced.
Want to learn more about amethysts? Read our complete Amethyst Gem Guide.