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The Month of Amethyst

Dana Seng

Posted on February 04 2020

Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February. These gemstones have been admired for centuries for their attractive color, which ranges from pale lavender or pink to deep purple. Scientists cannot explain why amethysts are purple, but whatever the reason, they make for dramatic and distinctive February birthstone jewelry.

Characteristics

Amethyst is a type of quartz crystal. Its chemical makeup is silicon dioxide. On the Mohs hardness scale, it rates as a seven. This makes it fairly durable but susceptible to scratches from harder materials, such as diamond. Amethysts are sensitive to heat, acids, and alkaline solutions, which may cause them to lose their color or otherwise damage them. Amethyst crystals are transparent, meaning that light can shine through them. They usually have good clarity, meaning that an amethyst birthstone ring is often without any flaws or inclusions.

History

Human beings have been fascinated by amethysts since prehistoric times. Archeological evidence indicates that it was used for decoration by early humans in France 25,000 years ago. Ancient Greeks associated amethysts with Dionysus, the god of wine, because of its purple color. They believed that the gemstone could guard against drunkenness. The name "amethyst" actually comes from a Greek word meaning "sober" or "not drunk."

Other cultures also ascribed special powers or qualities to amethysts. Ancient Egyptians thought they could protect people from harm and included them among the treasures stored in the pharaohs' tombs. According to Arabian mythology, wearing amethysts was supposed to protect people from developing gout, a painful condition resulting from excess fluid in the joints, as well as preventing bad dreams.

In the Middle Ages, amethysts were associated with chaste (i.e., non-sexual) love. It is said that Saint Valentine himself wore an amethyst ring, but that may be apocryphal. Amethysts were also used as medication during the Middle Ages. They were believed to make a person more alert and to sharpen the intellect.

Its unique color, clarity, and other attractive properties make amethyst jewelry very popular. However, it has special significance for those born in February. Birthstone bracelets for every month of the year are available from makers of fine jewelry.

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