Amethyst is the birthstone for February
Quartz, the second most prevalent mineral in the Earth’s crust, is present in amethysts. Quartz is often seen lining the interiors of geodes, which occur near volcanic activity. It’s no surprise that geodes sometimes include amethysts. Some amethyst geodes are enormous.
Amethysts, like quartz, are a translucent type of silicon dioxide (SiO2). The hue of amethyst may vary from pale mauve to deep purple. But how does the hue come into play? Some experts think the purple hue is caused by the iron oxide component of amethysts, while others say it is caused by manganese or hydrocarbons.
Amethysts are very heat sensitive. Amethyst’s hue changes to brownish-yellow or red when heated to 400 or 500 degrees Celsius (approximately 750 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit). When heated, the stones might become green in rare cases. Heat may even change an amethyst into citrine, a naturally uncommon yellow mineral. Even without heating, amethyst’s violet tint may fade over time.
Brazil and Uruguay are commercial producers of amethyst, while amethyst may be found in Arizona and North Carolina.
Lore of Amethyst
The amethyst has a long history of myth and folklore, dating back to 25,000 years ago in France when ancient people utilized it as a beautiful stone. It has also been discovered among the skeletal remains of Neolithic man.
Cleopatra’s signet ring was reported to be an amethyst etched with the image of Mithras, a Persian divinity representing the Divine Idea, Source of Light, and Life. It is also claimed to be the stone of Saint Valentine, who was said to have worn an amethyst etched with the image of his sidekick, Cupid. Valentine’s Day is still celebrated in February.
The name amethyst is derived from the Greek word “amethystos,” which means “not drunk,” and the stone was thought to keep its wearers from getting inebriated. The following is a narrative from Greco-Roman mythology, as told by Willard Heaps in “Birthstones”:
Diana the huntress upset Bacchus, the god of wine in Greek mythology. He proclaimed that the first person he saw as he walked through the jungle would be devoured by his tigers. The lovely maiden Amethyst, on her way to worship at Diana’s shrine, occurred to cross his path first. In a panic, she begged the goddess to help her, and Bacchus saw the maiden transform into a pure white, shining picture of stone before his eyes.
Bacchus, seeing his sin and repenting of his brutality, poured grape wine over her, imbuing the stone with the lovely violet shade of amethyst. The transition to non-intoxication was reasonable, and in ancient Rome, amethyst cups were used for wine, so drinkers didn’t have to worry about overindulging. The early Egyptians thought that amethyst had beneficial qualities and put the stones in pharaohs’ graves. It was employed as medicine throughout the Middle Ages, and it was said to dispel slumber, stimulate intelligence, and protect the user against sorcery. It was also thought to bring about success in combat. The amethyst was said to protect the user from unpleasant nightmares and gout in Arabian legend.