Throughout history, the mighty amethyst has been a beloved gemstone for many civilisations. Its luxurious bright purple colour has long made it a favourite in the world of jewellery making and its symbolism and supposed magical powers have led many people to wear pieces of amethyst jewellery as a powerful talisman, believed to bring them courage, calmness, and clarity.
What is an amethyst?
The Amethyst is a member of the quartz family and is most famous for its dazzling purple hue. This stone's colour can vary from a deep plum tone to light lilac. Amethysts are formed when lava cools and hardens, creating cavities which are then filled with silica-rich liquid that contains traces of iron. This liquid then goes on to form crystals, resulting in the gradual formation of amethyst geodes.
There are multiple variations of the amethyst, including:
Amethyst Quartz: this compound of milky quartz and amethyst is purple on the top and white on the bottom, or in some instances, banded purple and white.
Ametrine: a mixture of amethyst and citrine, this variant is partially purple and partially yellow or orange. The colours in this amethyst type are normally sharply divided.
Cactus Quartz: this amethyst variant is normally comprised of amethyst and citrine and contains large crystals covered in a layer of smaller crystals. This variant can only be found in Boekenhouthoek (Magaliesberg) in South Africa.
Canadian Amethyst: an amethyst found near Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, which has an internal coating of red hematite under the crystal surface.
Lavender Amethyst: as suggested by the name, this amethyst variant is pale purple in colour.
Veracruz Amethyst: impressive tall and prismatic amethyst variations that derive from Vera Cruz, Mexico.
Prasiolite Amethyst: this unusual type of amethyst is pale green in colour, and almost transparent.
The history of the amethyst
Amethysts, and the spiritual beliefs behind them, have long been appreciated by societies everywhere. For the Ancient Egyptians, the precious gemstone was believed to represent the zodiac sign of the goat. In Ancient Egypt, the goat was believed to be the enemy of vines and vineyards, thus establishing the amethyst's long-standing association with sobriety.
Greek mythology shares this connotation. In mythology, amethysts were believed to be formed from rock crystal that had been dyed purple by the tears of Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry. It was said that the amethyst could stop you from becoming excessively drunk. Instead, the stone would instil calm sobriety in the wearer.
Later, the amethyst became symbolic of royalty and status. Even the crown jewels feature the noble amethyst, proving that they are held in extremely high esteem.
During the 18th century, the amethyst really came into its own. At this point, gemstone cutting and polishing techniques became more advanced and gems such as amethyst were more commonly used in jewellery making. Most often, they would be mounted in clusters of old-min cut diamonds and set into earrings, brooches, necklaces, and more.
During the 1920s and 1930s, amethysts waned in popularity. However, they were back with a bang after World War II. Bright and bold colours were key in creating vintage jewellery and gems such as amethyst, ruby, and turquoise were especially popular.
The symbolism of the amethyst
There are many benefits and properties that people believe amethysts to possess. From treating insomnia to balancing your mindset and encouraging calm contemplation, these purple stones really are believed to do it all. Amethysts are sometimes referred to as the gemstone of peace, so if you're looking for a gemstone that will look fabulous while also bringing you a sense of calm, the amethyst would be an excellent choice.
Whether you are looking for a new addition to your jewellery box or a gift for a February birthstone gift, discover the full range of amethyst necklaces, bracelets, rings, and brooches at AC Silver. Each item radiates royalty and glamour and would add something extra special to every outfit! If you're interested in learning more about other precious gemstones, visit our sections on garnets, aquamarine, and more.
Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.