Amethyst – February Birthstone Meaning

Amethyst, the February birthstone, is a quartz gemstone with sparkling violet or purple colour. Read on to learn why you should wear amethyst jewellery while drinking wine — and why it’s the best gift to give someone on Valentine’s Day.

In this article:

  • Amethyst legend and lore
  • What is amethyst?
  • Amethysts and drinking alcohol
  • What Valentine’s Day has to do with amethyst
  • Why ship captains used to wear amethyst
  • Famous amethyst jewellery
  • Amethyst buyer’s tips

Why amethysts symbolise love

According to Roman legend, a wise old priest called St Valentine used to travel throughout the Roman Empire performing marriages.

Couples in love would often ask him to bless them in marriage.

Apparently, St Valentine wore a large violet amethyst ring with an image of Cupid engraved on it, and his official saint’s day is 14th February.

This is how Valentine’s Day became the tradition we know today. It is also why the amethyst is the gemstone that symbolises love.

A painting of St Valentine by artist Jacopo Bassano | Image credit Wikipedia Commons

A gemstone that keeps you sober

The ancient Greeks believed amethysts could stop you from getting drunk. They carved drinking cups out of amethyst, thinking the crystals lessened the effects of wine.

In fact, the word amethyst comes from the Greek word amethystos meaning ‘not intoxicated’. So amethysts could help you attract love—and keep your head clear on a hot date. At least that’s what the Greeks believed.

An amethyst pendant (bottom centre) together with aquamarine (top left) and blue topaz (top right)

Amethyst birthstone legends and lore

If you were born in February, the amethyst holds special meaning for you, because it is the birthstone of that month. Alternatively, it is also the gemstone of the Capricorn star sign.

In Asia, amethyst legend says that this gemstone can make you more spiritual. It is also supposed to give you courage and strength and promote peace.

In Medieval Europe, sailors believed amethyst amulets could protect them from storms.

What is amethyst?

Amethyst is a quartz mineral. It’s usually purple or violet in colour. Amethyst ranks 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, making it tough enough to wear in jewellery.

It’s a very translucent and beautiful gemstone with plenty of sparkle, so jewellery designers regard it as ideal for beautiful statement jewellery.

The largest and purest quality amethyst crystals come from mines in Brazil.

Amethyst crystals

Famous amethyst jewellery

Throughout history, royals have regarded amethyst as the most highly prized quartz gem.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II owns an amethyst collection called the Kent Demi-Parure. She is most often seen wearing the brooch that belongs to it.

The Queen of Sweden owns an amethyst tiara, part of a complete amethyst set called the Napoleonic Amethyst Parure. It originally belonged to Empress Josephine.

Modern stars like Katy Perry, Courteney Cox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Kruger and Sofia Vergara have all been spotted wearing amethyst jewellery to award ceremonies and red carpet events.

Image credit Wikimedia Commons

Amethyst buying advice

Our gem expert recommends assessing amethysts in the same way as diamonds – by clarity, colour, cut and carat weight.

High-quality amethysts won’t appear to 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.

Visit our amethyst gem buying guide for more information.