Amethyst: Stone of Awareness

Until the 18th century, amethyst used to be a precious stone along with diamond and ruby. Ancient Greeks and Romans made a habit of wearing an amethyst stone to keep themselves from getting intoxicated with wine. What is amethyst? Does this gemstone truly have the power to keep a person self-aware and self-possessed?

Purple Amethyst Ring
An amethyst geode
Source: Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0
Hexagonal amethyst crystals

Amethyst Properties

While the gemstone is called amethyst, the mineral is in fact a variety of quartz. Quartz is a hard transparent stone known as rock crystal when colorless and clear. What makes an amethyst crystal different from clear quartz and all other varieties? The difference is in the color. The name amethyst refers to the violet variety of quartz, in the same way that citrine applies to the yellow.

A Roman amethyst cameo

Amethyst History

Amethyst was widely used as gemstone in antiquity, and held value so high that the gem was classified amongst the precious stones, competing with diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald. Jewelry with amethyst stones was prized by Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Anglo-Saxons. It was only in the 18th century, when a huge deposit of amethyst geodes was found in Brazil, that the value of the amethyst gemstone went tumbling down. Today, amethyst is regarded as a semi-precious stone, less expensive by far, though as beautiful as it ever was.

Lavender Amethyst Bracelet

Amethyst Meaning

Classical Greek beliefs speak of amethyst as a jewel possessed with powers to stave off intoxication and drunkenness. It was said that Rhea, a titan goddess, presented an amethyst stone to Dionysius, in order to keep the god of wine from himself getting drunk.

Amethyst is indeed regarded as a stone of awareness and self-possession. Ancient Greeks and Romans wore an amethyst stone, as well as drunk from vessels made from the stone, to prevent themselves from getting intoxicated. European soldiers likewise wore amulets made from amethyst rock, in the belief that the gemstone keeps them cool-headed and heals injury. Beside intoxication, an amethyst crystal is believed to chase away addiction, as well as mental and psychological disorders.

Amethyst As Birthstone

Amethyst is the birthstone of several zodiac signs, as well as the month of February.

Pisces Charm Necklace: Lavender Amethyst Pendant

Pisces. The zodiac sign that amethyst is most popular as birthstone of is Pisces. Pisces people are gentle, affable and self-aware, with inclination towards spirituality and dreams. What with the metaphysical properties attributed to the gemstone, amethyst suitably represents the zodiac sign. An amethyst stone is believed to bring peace, love and happiness, making a person more gentle and amiable, as well as enhance spirituality and dreams. For other birthstones for Pisces, see also Pisces Birthstones.

Aquarius Charm Necklace: Lavender Amethyst Pendant

Aquarius. Amethyst is also a birthstone for Aquarius, the sign that comes immediately before Pisces. Amethyst is birthstone for Aquarius in Hindu astrology, as well as the Aquarius birthstone endorsed by author Cassandra Eason. For other birthstones for Aquarius, see also Aquarius Birthstones.

Scorpio. Amethyst is the talismanic stone for Scorpio, a water sign just like Pisces. Scorpio talismans were indeed popularly made out of amethyst.

Sagittarius. Amethyst is likewise associated with the zodiac sign Sagittarius.

February. Amethyst is consistently named as the birthstone for February. From ancient calendars to modern birthstone lists, amethyst is popularly assigned to the second month of the year.

Lavender Amethyst Necklace

Amethyst Color

While amethyst is, by definition, the violet variety of quartz, the color of amethyst crystals is not all the same. Violet comes in different shades, and so does an amethyst stone, ranging from light lavender to dark purple, possibly with tinges of pink or rose, or rather blue. A variety of amethyst called chevron amethyst, also known as banded amethyst, displays stripes of white quartz.

One common misconception about amethyst is that the gemstone can be green in color. Green quartz is called prasiolite, and natural amethyst can only turn green after undergoing heat treatment. On the other hand, the name amethyst comes with the color violet. Hence, green amethyst is an inaccurate term, if not something altogether fake.

Chevron Amethyst Bracelet

Amethyst Jewelry

The February-born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they an amethyst will wear,

— Gregorian birthstone poem

Greeks and Romans used to fashion an amethyst crystal into cameos. Today, while affordable enough to be cut into beads and made into fashion jewelry, amethyst stones are also prominently set as pendant for rings, earrings, necklaces, brooches and bracelets. Amethyst remains the birthstone for February. As such, an amethyst stone is unlikely to cease being a popular choice of gemstone for fine jewelry.

Purple Amethyst Necklace

Amethyst Value

While amethyst is no longer as highly valuable as it was until the 18th century, an amethyst stone can still fetch a high price. The determining factor is in the color. The deeper the color of an amethyst rock is, the more valuable is the stone. Known as the Deep Russian, the highest grade of amethyst is exceptionally rare, and accordingly most valuable, though still by a long way costs less than the highest grade of ruby and sapphire.

Chevron Amethyst Earrings

Do you like amethyst?

In the world of gemstones, amethyst represents the color purple. An amethyst crystal is also believed imbued with the powers of self-awareness and spiritual healing. Do you like amethyst? Do you like to wear purple gemstones in general? See also 26 Types of Purple Gemstones in Jewelry.

Published May 1, 2014

About the Author

Deomar Pandan is the author of Power Birthstone. He's on the third draft of a high-fantasy novel, Cybelym, and the first of a historical fiction, Gem Faerie. He hopes to release a nonfiction book about diamond soon. Follow him for updates. Or see his jewelry and designs.