Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz. Although it's
color has to be purple to be considered amethyst, the different shades of purple
can vary greatly from light to very dark. Amethyst is one of the most beautiful
purple gemstones, and if it wasn't for the good availability this gemstone would
be much more expensive. The deeper regal purple varities have been sought after
by royaly throughout history.
Sometimes amethyst deposits that have been sujected to naturally high temperatures create
a bi-colored quartz called amertine which combines the colors of amethyst and citrine.
Amethyst was the symbol of sobriety in ancient Greece, and was believed to ward off
the effects of alcohol. The word Amethyst comes from the Greek word amethystos which
translates to "not drunken". Wine goblets carved from amethyst were thought to prevent
Amethyst has also been considered as sacred to Buddha, and Tibetan monks often
carved prayer beads from this holy gem. In other cultures it has been used as
a calming gem. Amethyst was used to ease anxiety and unbalanced emotions.
The origin of the tradition of birthstones is sometimes attributed to the Breastplate of Aaron, the high priest of Hebrews.
The breastplate of the high priest was a ceremonial garment set with 12 gemstones, each stone representing one of the
twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve gems corresponded to the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac.
Amethyst is the modern birthstone for February.
Amethyst has a Mohs scale hardness rating of 7.