Introducing amethyst, the beautiful birthstone for February
Meet February’s birthstone: Mysterious Amethyst
At Orsini we are often asked: what is the birthstone for February? Well if you’re lucky enough to be born in the second calendar month, it’s stunning amethyst. This beautiful stone represents peace and purity of spirit in its clear purple hues, and is a type of quartz often found in geodes amidst cooled lava. Amethyst ranges in colour from the palest of lilacs to dramatic, deep reddish purple, receiving its varying purple hues from the presence of iron and natural irradiation under the earth’s surface. Gems can show colour zoning with both uneven colour distribution and colour bands, and some treatments can even change the colour of an amethyst. Those gems, though, are no longer considered amethyst, but rather just a different coloured quartz variety. Amethyst can be heated to colours like yellow, green, blue, and red-orange, but we love purple for its charming and mystical qualities.
What is the history of the amethyst stone?
The word “amethyst” is derived from the Greek word amethystos, meaning “not drunk” or “a remedy for drunkenness”. This is because the ancient Greeks believed a person could drink all night and remain sober if they had an amethyst on their person! And according to Greek mythology, Amethyst was a young virgin who became the object of wrath of the Greek god Dionysus after he became intoxicated with red wine. When Amethyst cried out to Goddess Diana for help, she immediately turned the girl into a white, shimmering stone – quartz. When Dionysus realised what had happened and felt remorse for his actions, his tears dripped into his goblet of red wine. The goblet overturned, and the red wine spilled all over the white rock, saturating it until it became the purple quartz that is now known as Amethyst.
Amethyst was also believed to keep those who wore it clear headed and quick witted in battle and business affairs, and the ancient Egyptians were known to use amethysts in amulets as a form of prayer and for protection from harm.
During the Renaissance, the amethyst stood for humility and modesty. Throughout the ages, powerful and rich monarchs have used the gem as a symbol of royalty, and some amethysts even decorate the British Crown Jewels. Rumour has it that the amethyst was a personal favourite of Queen Catherine the Great of Russia, who had a collection of amethyst necklaces, earrings and other ornamental jewellery.
Where is the amethyst stone found?
Amethysts are found in many locations, including Western India, Southern Brazil, Uruguay, Madagascar, the United States, Soviet Union, Australia, South Africa, Southwestern Sri Lanka, South America and Africa.
Amethysts from Veracruz, Eastern Mexico, tend to be very pale, while specimens from Guerrero, Southwest-Central Mexico, ten to be very brightly coloured. Deep rich purple colours are believed to be the most valuable kind, and amethysts are graded, with the best-quality, darkest specimens called "Siberian," regardless of where they are from.
What are amethyst’s spiritual qualities?
For those who celebrate a February birthday, the amethyst is a symbol of personal empowerment and inner strength. And traditionally, the February birthstone is believed to convey strength and wit, and is a great protector.
Camillo Leonardi, an Italian astronomer and astrologer, wrote that amethyst quickens intelligence and rids you of evil thoughts, while its calming presence was thought to produce soothing dreams, producing clarity and peacefulness to the waking mind.
A dream of receiving an amethyst as a gift signifies incoming good luck, while dreaming of giving an amethyst means you forgive the recipient for anything they may have done to harm you.
Do amethysts make for good engagement rings?
In jewellery terms, amethyst has a Mohs hardness score of 7, which means it's slightly harder to scratch than a steel nail. This hardness makes amethyst an excellent choice for an engagement ring and explains why so much vintage amethyst jewellery looks as good today as the day it was made. For those looking for something even more hardwearing in a similar hue, purple sapphires are even more durable.
How do I care for amethyst jewellery?
The colour of an amethyst can be quite unstable, and can diminish with protracted exposure to sunlight. Avoid any contact with chemicals such as household cleaners or hairspray, and take care with cleaning.
Amethyst jewellery is best cleaned with warm, soapy water and a tightly woven microfibre or other soft cloth, and always avoid steam cleaning to keep your stone looking it naturally bright best. And to minimise scratching and wear, always store each piece of your fine jewellery separately in a soft cloth or padded container.
In addition, we highly recommend that you take all your fine jewellery to a professional jeweller at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and inspection. And yes, we’re very happy to help!
How can I find the amethyst for me?
At Orsini we love the process of helping our clients to create their dream piece of custom jewellery, especially one with their precious birthstone jewel at its heart. The process of building and shaping an idea, then turning that idea into a true masterpiece, is one that we relish at every step.
If you have an idea in mind for a piece of jewellery that you just can’t find or don’t know where to start, we’d love to meet with you and give you an insight into our process and how it can work for you. The Orsini team consists of unabashedly creative and talented jewellery designers, premium diamond graders, gemmologists and master goldsmiths, all trained to create unique pieces of jewellery through every stage of the process, with great precision and finish. We are proud of our creations and team work, and we would love to work together with you to make your dreams a reality.
Feel free to contact us at any time, or visit us instore at our elegant Parnell atelier, where we invite you to relax while we discuss the seemingly endless possibilities for your bespoke design.