The gem is the most precious member of the quartz family and has long been treasured by kings, queens and religious figures because of its rich royal colour. Indeed, this beautiful purple gem can be traced back to the Minoan period in Greece, twenty-five hundred years before Christ.
It is from the Greek civilization that we find one of the most interesting pieces of lore about amethyst. They believe that wearing the gem, or drinking from goblets cut from the gem would minimize the effects of intoxication! In fact, the word “Amethyst” is from the Greek word meaning literally “not to intoxicate”.
Throughout history, the amethyst has been fashioned into faceted gems, polished into domed shaped “cabochons”, rounded into beads or left in its beautiful rough crystal form. It holds special significance for those born in the month of February.
Beautifully intense purple stones are available from such sources as Brazil, where they are expertly irradiated and/or heat-treated to bring out this very desirable colour. This enhancement is permanent so no special care or cleaning technique is required. However, particularly rough wear and tear can erode an amethyst’s polish over a period of time.
* image courtesy the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA)