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Amethyst - Purple Love

February's birthstone - AMETHYST- it’s purple, what’s not to like?

a purple amethyst quartz crystal

I’m drawn to purple – all shades – from soft pastel lilacs through to the deep dark royal tones – so its no surprise that I am also drawn to the gemstone amethyst and love to use it in my jewellery. For me, as well as its association with spirituality, power, royalty and luxury, purple is also associated with Scotland. It appears in our national symbol—the thistle—and colours our hillsides as Scottish heather.

And, of course, if you are lucky enough to be born in February, you can claim this beautiful gemstone as your birthstone! So that includes Aquarians as well as some Pisceans born in late February as well.

In Ancient times, popping an Amethyst crystal in your goblet of wine was believed to prevent you from getting drunk (please do not try this at home!). The gemstone’s name is believed to come from the Greek word 'amethystos' meaning ‘not intoxicating’.

Bacchus and Amethyste

A 16th century poem by the French poet Belleau tells the tale of Bacchus and Amethyste and offers one fanciful interpretation of the how the gemstone was formed. In the poem, Bacchus (the Roman god of wine and fertility and the equivalent to the Greek god Dionysus) was in love with Amethyste, but she did not return his affections. Praying to the gods to save her from his amorous pursuit, she was turned to white stone by the goddess Diana. The scorned Bacchus is said to have been full of remorse and as an offering to the gods, poured a goblet of wine over the statue. The wine is said to have stained the white stone purple, thus creating amethyst.

Purple Quartz

In reality, the formation of amethyst happens over millions of years of volcanic activity. Hot molten magma pushes up through the earth’s crust, bubbling with hot gases and a volatile boiling soup of minerals. As it cools the lava bubbles form pockets of air (geodes) and into these drip mineral-rich water. Over time this activity results in quartz crystals. Where these crystals contain trace amounts of iron and manganese, they colour blush purple and become amethyst.

Kissing Cousins - Amethyst and Citrine

Sometimes when the quartz crystals are forming, heat causes the iron impurities to oxidize even further, and purple Amethyst turns into yellow Citrine. Occasionally both colours are found in the same crystal and the amazing bi-colour Ametrine is formed.

A Long History

Mentioned several times in the old-testament bible, amethyst was one of the twelve stones found on the breastplate of Aaron, the brother of Moses. In Revelations in the New Testament, Amethyst is the twelfth stone in the foundations of Jerusalem. Until the discovery of vast quantities of Amethyst in South American opened the market to large scale mining of this gemstone, it was held up as one of the five cardinal gems - alongside diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Today it remains the most popular and valuable form of quartz.

Drop earrings with purple amethyst rounds set inside sterling silver halo beads. By Indigo Berry

A gift to say..    I love you, I care about and I want you to be happy.

 Considered a symbol of balance and protection, Amethyst is believed to help clear your thoughts and give you peace of mind. Today, Amethyst is often given as a gift of love and particularly chosen to mark a 6th wedding anniversary. Traditionally, gifts of iron were given on 6th year anniversaries – amethyst makes a much more romantic choice!

Top Tip

Amethyst crystals are sensitive to sunlight and moisture. Prolonged exposure to either of these can cause the gemstones purple colour to fade. So don’t wear your amethyst earrings or necklace when sunbathing, showering or swimming!

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