Amethyst – From Ancient Greece to Modern Royalty & Everyone in Between
I remember the first time I saw an amethyst ring. Utterly fascinated with the color purple and rocks in general at the tender age of about five, the realization that both could be found together in a sparkly gem was AMAZING. The ring was a simple solitaire and my grandmother promised that she would send it to me when I was older. Presumably, when it would actually fit me without falling off. And so my life-long passion for purple and amethysts began.
Amethysts have always been a coveted stone, from ancient Greece, where they were believed to cure/prevent drunkenness. Because of the deep purple color, the Greeks associated amethysts with wine and of course, the Gods of winos, Dionysus. For protection against drunkenness, cups and goblets were decorated with amethysts, and citizens wore the gemstone as well as amulets of protection. Considering the ample consumption of wine in the ancient Greek culture, I am fairly certain that no gemstone, no matter how powerful, would be able to keep most of populace stone sober. Just look at bacchanals.
Amethysts were highly coveted by members of the aristocracy as well as various royal houses around the world, because purple was the color of royalty. A flawless amethyst with its deep purple glow would have seemed to be heaven sent to declare heads of state. Because of the scarcity of amethysts until the 19th century, the cost was on par with emeralds and rubies until that time. Fortunately, very large deposits of amethyst were discovered in Brazil and so the amethyst became a much more affordable option for gemstone enthusiasts worldwide.
Some of the most famous amethyst pieces are:
The “Delhi Sapphire” wasn’t a sapphire at all – but a stunning amethyst. Taken from a temple in India in the 1850’s, it is said to be cursed. It currently maintains its mystery in the Natural History Museum in London.
The Tiffany Amethyst is an over 50-carat square gem that is currently in the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian.
The lovely and incomparable Wallis Simpson aka. The Duchess of Windsor wore a stunning amethyst necklace with diamond and turquoise accents by Cartier that was as much of a show stopper as she was.
Some quick facts about amethysts:
- - February’s official birthstone since the early 1900s
- - Mohs scale – 7
- - Light lavender colored amethysts are called ‘rose de france’.
- - A variety of quartz
- - Found in large deposits in Brazil, Colombia and Arizona
- - Often found with other quartz such as rose quartz, smoky quartz and citrine
- - Amethysts are thought to guard against insomnia and as a protection against evil.