February – Amethyst
February’s birthstone, the amethyst, was the stone of royalty, representing power.
Amethysts contain the second most abundant mineral found in Earth’s crust – quartz. Like quartz, amethysts are a transparent form of silicon dioxide (SiO2). An amethyst’s color can range from a faint mauve to a rich purple. It’s not clear why they’re purple. Some scientists believe the purple color arises from the amethysts’ iron oxide content, while others attribute the color to manganese or hydrocarbons.
Quartz is often found lining the insides of geodes, which sometimes contain amethysts too. I have a fairly large amethyst geode (called a church) myself that was a graduation gift from my Dad. It stands about 1.5 feet tall with fairly large crystals throughout it. I’ve seen some larger than a doorway even. Geodes are one of nature’s most wondrous creations. The kids and I used to hunt for geodes in a creek like Easter eggs – and it was so much fun to crack them open and see what was inside. We never found amethysts in our geodes – but a lot of pretty quartz and calcite crystals. Commercial sources of amethyst are Brazil and Uruguay; while in the U.S., most amethyst is found in Arizona and North Carolina.
Amethysts are sensitive to heat and if heated to 400 or 500 degrees Celsius can change color from a brownish yellow to red. Some stones can turn green when heated too and it’s fairly common to see green amethysts used in jewelry. Heat may even transform an amethyst into a naturally-rare mineral called citrine. The violet color of an amethyst may fade over time naturally too – even without heat.
The amethyst has a rich history of lore and legend. It can be traced back as far as 25,000 years ago in France, where it was used as a decorative stone by prehistoric humans. It has also been found among the remains of Neolithic man. Early Egyptians believed the Amethyst possessed good powers, and were placed in the tombs of pharaohs. It’s said that the signet ring worn by Cleopatra was an amethyst, engraved with the figure of Mithras, a Persian deity symbolizing the Divine Idea, Source of Light and Life. It is also said to be the stone of Saint Valentine, who wore an amethyst engraved with the figure of his assistant, Cupid. Saint Valentine’s Day is still observed in February.
The word amethyst comes from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning “not drunk,” and was believed to prevent its wearers from intoxication. In ancient Rome, amethyst cups were used for wine, so drinkers would have no fear of overindulgence. However, during the Middle Ages it was as a medication that was thought to dispel sleep and sharpen the intellect – nothing like drinking ground up stones to keep you awake huh? It was also thought to protect the wearer from sorcery and to bring victory in battle.
We have quite a few lovely items that incorporate amethysts into the designs, so be sure and get one for the good power, protection from sorcery and victory in your battles. I wouldn’t recommend grinding them up and drinking them thoughJ. Happy shopping.Credit for history and meanings go to earthsky.org. Check them out - I signed up for their newsletter and they have some truly amazing stories daily.