February Birthstone - Stunning Amethyst
Amethyst, the February birthstone, has a rich history and strong symbolic ties to love and spirituality. Due to its beauty, availability, and durability, this purple gem has become a very popular jewelry stone. You'll find them in everything from simple stud earrings to delicate bracelets to bold statement rings. Learn more about this fascinating gemstone.
What Color is Amethyst?
Amethyst colors can range from pale lilac to deep reddish purple. A variety of quartz, amethyst gets its color from the presence of iron, other trace elements, and natural irradiation. (Don't worry, this occurs underground over millions of years and poses no health hazards).
How Do You Judge Amethyst Color?
Generally speaking, people want amethysts for their purple color. Therefore, the value of a particular stone depends almost entirely on how well it shows that color.
The most prized amethyst stones feature a deeply saturated or "intense" purple color, perhaps with hints of violet or red hues. Stones with brown or bronze tinges usually have lower values. Amethyst may have light or dark tones. Most gem buyers favor darker tones.
Look for a February birthstone that has its color distributed evenly throughout the stone, without noticeably paler or darker regions or striped patterns.
Amethyst Meaning and Folklore
Amethyst is not only the traditional and modern February birthstone but also the commemorative gem for sixth and seventeenth wedding anniversaries. Indeed, amethyst has strong connections to the month of February and love. According to legend, St. Valentine — whose day devoted to love we celebrate in February — wore an amethyst ring carved with Cupid's likeness.
However, amethyst's most well-known symbolic association involves the prevention of drunkenness. In fact, the name "amethyst" itself comes from the Greek word amethystos, which means "not drunk." The Ancient Greeks believed you could drink all night and remain sober if you had an amethyst in your mouth or on your person. Sometimes they even added powdered amethysts to their drink to keep them from becoming inebriated.
Perhaps as an extension of amethyst's supposed power to prevent intoxication, some people believe wearing this gem enhances fortitude and helps promote serenity, clear thoughts, and quick wit. In Yogic beliefs, amethyst is associated with the powerful Crown Chakra, located at the top of the head.
Where Does Amethyst Come From?
Currently, many countries have productive deposits of amethyst. However, before the discovery of new deposits in Brazil in the 19th century, this gemstone was rare. Prior to that discovery, Russia was the leader in the global production of amethyst. More recently, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Zambia have produced gem-quality amethysts. Other notable producers include Canada, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and the United States. With so many sources, the February birthstone has now become widely available.
How to Buy Amethyst Jewelry
Aside from stunning purple colors, amethysts have other properties that make them excellent jewelry stones.
Availability, Affordability, and Quality
Beautiful and abundant, amethyst can grace any type of jewelry, from mass produced pieces to the finest custom couture creations. Since amethyst crystals can grow to massive sizes, gem faceters can also cut them precisely into calibrated sizes for jewelry settings or carve them into fantastic and distinctive pieces of art. Moreover, the availability of amethyst in large sizes means its price per carat goes up just gradually as the gems increase in size. This makes the February birthstone perfect for a jewelry statement piece. You can surely find an amethyst jewelry design that fits your style (and budget) perfectly.
Since amethysts are so abundant, always choose stones with good transparency and clarity. Amethysts often contain inclusions, materials and cavities trapped within the crystal. However, you should have no trouble choosing eye-clean amethysts. That means you won't see the inclusions with the naked eye and they won't affect the stone's appearance.
You should also have no trouble finding a well-cut amethyst. Don't settle for a substandard cut. A poor cut will lower the stone's beauty and value, even if it has excellent color. Amethysts can receive brilliant cuts that enhance their brightness or other styles of cuts that emphasize deep color. Expert gem cutters will choose faceting designs that best showcase individual stones.