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, which continues to this day. Tiffany & Co.'s Gregorian Birthstone Poem, published in 1870, has this to say about February's birthstone ...

The February-born shall find

Sincerity and peace of mind,

Freedom from passion and from care,

If they an amethyst will wear.

Citrine, a yellow-green gemstone, is actually a very rare form or amethyst.

What does it symbolise?

​Known as The Bishop's Stone, amethysts are frequently worn on the fingers of Bishops to symbolise their spirituality, sincerity, wisdom and humility. It is thought the amethyst is the perfect stone to symbolise The Age of Aquarius, the next astrological period of 2000 years, which we are now entering. Healing Powers

Put an amethyst under your pillow to ensure pleasant dreams, or rub it across your forehead to relieve a headache. Amethyst can both relieve insomnia and cure pain. Arabian mythology also credits the amethyst with curing gout. Spiritual healers use amethyst to aid in problems associated with the heart and lungs, and recommend placing amethysts in a part of your home where they can be flooded with moonlight. Amethyst absorbs the calming energy of the moon and releases it into the home during the day. Superstitions and Beliefs.

The amethyst has many superstitions attached to it, not merely that it can protect against the evils of Bacchus, the God of Wine. Leonardo da Vinci wrote that amethysts enhance intelligence and protect against evil thoughts. It's also believed to protect soldiers in battle, helping them focus and feel no fear. Amethysts enable hunters to be successful in their hunts, and assist business owners to be shrewd in business dealings. It can also protect the wearer from poison and witchcraft! Citrine, a rare yellow-green variant of amethyst, was carried by travellers in the middle ages to protect them from snakebite.

Spiritually, amethyst can guard against guilty feelings, protect the wearer from self-deception, and open up psychic ability. There is a huge 343 carat amethyst, famously (and incorrectly!) known as the Delhi Purple Sapphire, which has a terrible curse attached to it. The unlucky gem is now housed in London's Natural History Museum where it can hopefully do no more harm. You can read more about it here.

Historically

The oldest known amethyst jewellery dates back to 2000BCE, though historians believe it has been used as decoration or for ceremonial purposes for over 25,000 years! Amethyst beads have been found in ancient anglo-saxon graves in England.

Ancient Romans would drink their wine from carved amethyst cups so they could indulge to their heart's content without fear of intoxication. St. Valentine was reputed to wear an amethyst ring with the image of cupid engraved intaglio into it. Tibetans believe the amethyst is sacred to Buddha, and carve amethysts to make their prayer beads.

Were you born in February? If you are a February baby invest in, or request, a gift of amethyst. As your birthstone all its magical properties will be enhanced for you, ensuring a calm, sober and fulfilled life of peace and good health, and remember, February-born people are honest – sometimes painfully so! – , strong-willed, devoted, and quick witted. Does that sound like you?

Next week: "Valentine's Day". Find out how this international day of love came to be!

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