February's Birthstone - The Amethyst
February's birthstone, the amethyst, is a magical gemstone full of amazing properties. Let's take a look at what your February amethyst birthstone can do for you!
What is an amethyst?
The amethyst is a beautiful purple gemstone in hues of lavender, lilac and violet. The name amethyst is from the Greek 'amethystos', meaning 'not drunk', as it was believed that amethysts could protect the wearer from drunkenness!
Until the 19th century amethysts were as valuable as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies, and were historically considered one of the five Cardinal Gems (those being the rarest in the world). That was until a large deposit of amethyst was discovered in South America, making them more commercially available and affordable. The most prized amethysts have a strong reddish-purple colour.
Amethysts are a form of quartz found in geodes (large hollow rocks). Some amethyst geodes are so big a person can easily stand up in them! The largest known amethyst geode is The Empress of Uruguay, which stands at around 3 metres high and weighs 2.5 tons, and is currently on display at The Crystal Caves south of Cairns. It is said to be valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The purple colour comes from the iron and aluminium content - without that it would just be an ordinary colourless quartz.
Amethyst are quite hardy gemstones, perfect for use in jewellery, though they should be carefully stored to prevent scratching. Their translucency and clarity are ideal for faceting to show off depth of colour and light refraction. Purple has long been the colour associated with royalty, so amethysts could often be seen in crowns, regal rings and sceptres. Amethysts saw a surge in popularity as a stand-alone gemstone in jewellery during the Art Deco era of the 1920s and '30s, whi