Amethyst Meaning and Properties

Amethyst History

Amethyst (pronounced AM-eh-thihst) is one of the most common--and popular!--gemstone materials. This variety of quartz ranges in color from deep purple to pale lavender depending on the presence of manganese and iron.

The origin of this gemstone, according to the ancient Greeks, was the nymph named Amethystos. She refused the attentions of Dionysus, the god of wine and intoxication. As he pursued her, she prayed for protection and to preserve her chastity. The virgin goddess Artemis answered her call for help, transforming the nymph into a white or clear stone. The story ends with Dionysus pouring his wine over the stone--either accidentally or deliberately--dyeing the crystal purple.

With purple dye being the royal choice in the ancient Mediterranean, the amethyst quickly became associated with wealth and power. It traditionally adorned the robes and crowns of rich and powerful monarchs, being viewed as equal in value to ruby, emerald and sapphire. Amethyst still holds a place in the halls of power, being worn by church officials in the Church of Scotland, the Anglican/Episcopal hierarchies and the Roman Catholic church.

The British Crown Jewels include a number of pieces with amethyst, including the Royal Sceptre with the Cross, the Kent Demi-Parure and numerous brooches worn by Queen Elizabeth II and other female members of the family. Other royal families have amethyst-studded tiaras and parures in their own collections.

Amethyst is the birthstone for February.

Delve into the mysteries of amethyst with our very own graduate gemologist, Dev. Learn how he tests for Mohs hardness and see how easy it is to make a pair of amethyst earrings.

Amethyst Metaphysical Properties

Because of the myth of its origins, this stone has been believed to prevent drunkenness and have the power to quell a range of other physical appetites and indulgences. This sobering effect is also believed to clarify mental acuity, improving the decision-making ability of those who wear it. This made it a popular choice for giving to young men--helping them avoid temptation and keeping them clear-minded when using weapons.

Leonardo Da Vinci once wrote that amethyst holds the power to dissipate evil thoughts and quicken one's intelligence. Healers have been using amethyst to increase their psychic abilities and intuition for centuries. Cross-culturally, this popular gemstone was used as a symbol of peace and unification. It is also thought to evoke feelings of serenity and calmness in those who wear it.

Amethyst is often used during meditation to provide an overall sense of spiritual balance. Some naturopaths will use amethyst to help treat insomnia and sugar imbalances, and to relieve headaches.

Amethyst Geological Properties

Amethyst is a naturally-occurring macrocrystalline (meaning large crystal formations) variety of quartz that usually grows on the inside of agate geodes. Geodes containing amethyst crystals are formed when clay, silt, sand or gravel are deposited and compacted by running water. While the crystals themselves may grow to be several inches, the geodes containing the amethyst crystals often reach several feet in height. Some of the largest amethyst geodes have been found in Brazil. Other locations where amethyst is mined include Sri Lanka, India, Uruguay, Madagascar, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Africa, Russia and the United States.

This majestic gemstone gets its color from the presence of manganese and/or iron. Amethyst can also appear reddish-purple or yellow-purple depending on the combination of minerals present in the clear quartz. Were amethyst less abundant, it would be even more highly-prized--and expensive!

Mineral Information Crystalline Quartz
Chemical Composition SiO2
Color Purple, violet, red-violet
Hardness 7 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 2.66
Refractive Index 1.544 - 1.553
Cause of Color Manganese and iron

Proper Care of Amethyst

This stone is fairly hard and durable so it can be cleaned using a steamer and ultrasonic cleaner.

To learn more about amethyst and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Amethyst

Make a royal statement! Because purple is the color associated with wealth and prosperity, amethyst is still considered a prosperous stone--so wear it boldly. Amethyst comes in some of the widest ranges of cut, shape and style. Tiny sparkling faceted rondelle beads stack up with shade and sparkle, while rough druzy pendants add a pop of color and texture. The variety of purples, from pale lavender to deepest violet, means amethyst goes with just about everything: pearls and paua shell, gold or silver, smoky quartz or peridot. And more!

Why limit this gem to jewelry?

Keep this wealthy stone close to your purse strings--literally! Stitch amethyst onto purse straps or create your own wrist strap for a clutch, or over-the-shoulder chain for pouches. Its hardness and durability make it less susceptible to damage than many other gemstones.

Using white or colored Nymo® nylon beading thread and a leather needle, string 1-inch segments of amethyst, sterling silver, and other gemstone beads and anchor with a stitch (or two) on the leather strap. For existing chain straps, or to create a chain of your own, wire-wrap amethyst beads onto bulky hardware chain. Use silver- or gold-plated medium-curb chain to dangle several tiers of beads at either end of the purse. For leather clutches without strap attachments, use a leather punch to make a small hole on either side of the clutch. Connect 26mm split rings to the chain and clutch for a fresh, new look.

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**Please note that all metaphysical or healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® does not guarantee the validity of any of these statements.

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