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Birthstone Amethyst History

Amethyst History and Lore

Raw Amethyst StoneAmethyst is one of the oldest gemstones known to mankind. The traces of amethyst usages date back to 25,000 years ago when it was used in France by prehistoric humans for decorative purposes. The gem was also found in Neolithic remains. A member of quartz family, amethyst has a lot to enjoy as history. It has some famous legends and lore, and amazing facts, all make it a must-have for collectors.

Derived from the Greek word 'amethystos', which means ' not drunk', amethyst is believed to eliminate the effect of intoxication. The legend behind this has been associated with Greco-Roman mythology.

According to the story, the wine god Bacchus was offended by Diana the huntress. As he was determined on revenge, Bacchus declared that his tigers would eat the first person he met while he passes through the forest. A beautiful maiden Amethyst happened to cross his path when she was on her way to worship at the shrine of Diana. Amethyst was full of terror up on the declaration and requested the goddess to save her. To her request, Diana changed her into a pure white sparkling stone image in front of Bacchus. The god on realizing his guilty was filled with grief. To repent his cruelty, he poured grape wine over Amethyst's statue, turning the stone to an exquisite violet color. Thus, the gem became a symbol of non-intoxication and therefore, amethyst cups were often used by ancient Romans to drink wine without a fear of overindulgence.

In other story, Dionysus, the god of intoxication and wine was pursuing a maiden named Amethystos. She refused his affection and prayed the goddess Diana to remain chaste. Her prayer was answered and the goddess turned her into a white sparkling stone statue. Moved by her desire of remaining chaste, Dionysus paid his respect to her by pouring grape wine on the stone, turning it to purple.

These were few of the many famous legends about this mesmerizing birthstone of February. Amethyst is also a zodiac stone for Pisces and a gemstone for sixth anniversary.

The gem is one of the twelve birthstones studded in High Priest Aaron's breastplate. It was also worn by Bishops due to its symbolism for non-intoxication and because purple was used to symbolize Christ. The stone was also used in antiquity for intaglio engraving and as a symbol of Saint Matthias. As a symbol of love, Saint Valentine wore an amethyst ring with cupid engraved on it.

Queen Cleopatra used to wear an amethyst signet ring engraved with a figure of Mithras, the Persian deity of light and life.

There was a time when it was prized more than any other precious stone. In fact, it was one of the precious stones in old times. Amethyst has a rich royal history that includes its presence in the royal houses of Russia, France and Britain.

Siberian region of Russia was world known for its brilliant amethysts. Empress Catherine of Russia was a passionate lover of this gem and therefore had a lot of jewelry pieces set with the finest quality amethysts.

In those days, the purple dye was rare to make and very expensive, therefore it was forbidden for public and was only used by royal. Thus, the color purple became a royal color. This was one of the reasons of the popularity of amethyst jewels during the medieval period.

Although, the abundance of amethyst made it a bit cheaper as compared to the other precious stones, the 'Deep Siberian' amethyst with its primary purple and secondary blue hues is still rare and highly valued.

Its multiple shades of purple, the hardness of seven on moh's scale and beautiful crystal structure makes it a desirable gem for each type of fine and fashion jewelry.