- Dionysus, known for his love of grape juice, was the Greek god of wine, however after a few goblets he became a little confrontational. One day in the forest with goblet in hand, the tipsy Dionysus took insult from a passing mortal that refused to show him respect. The incident provoked his wrath and Dionysus swore revenge on the next mortal that he saw…
- Along came Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Dionysus targeted Amethyst as the object of his revenge, and with the snap of his fingers, he summoned two ferocious tigers to devour the girl. As Dionysus sat back to enjoy the spectacle, Amethyst cried out to her goddess Diana. Seeing what was about to happen, Diana transformed Amethyst into a glimmering pure white Quartz statue thus protecting her from the ferocious tigers. Moved with guilt, Dionysus realized the ruthlessness of his actions and began to weep with sorrow. As the tears dripped into his goblet, Dionysus collapsed spilling the tear-tainted wine onto the statue of Amethyst. The white Quartz absorbed the wine's colour creating the coloured gem that we refer to today as Amethyst, the "Gemstone of the Gods".
Legends & Lore
- With the mythology surrounding the origin of Amethyst, it is perhaps fitting that it was once considered a talisman to prevent drunkenness, which explains why wine goblets were once made from this gem. Indeed, it derives its name from the Greek word "Amethustos", meaning "Not Drunk".
- It is believed that Amethyst holds the power to change anger into tranquility, it is also believed that Amethyst is a protective gem that bounces off psychic attack, reverting negative energy into positive. As a gemstone of great healing and meditative powers, Amethyst is also believed to purify the energies of the mind, body and spirit.
Just The Facts
- Coloured by Iron, Amethyst is a variety of crystalline Quartz that occurs in a transparent light lavender/lilac to deep purple. It is these deeper more intense colours that generally are considered the most precious.
- Amethyst's shades of purple have served as a symbol of royalty throughout history. Pharaohs, Kings and Queens, as well as leading lights in religious sects have long treasured it because of its rich, royal colour. Because Amethyst is thought to encourage celibacy and symbolize piety, it was a key feature in the decoration of Catholic churches in the Middle Ages. Amethyst was considered to be the "Papal Stone" and even today, Bishops still wear Amethyst rings.
- Interestingly, this fascination with the colour purple dates back to Roman times when Generals celebrating triumphs (and later Emperors who never fought a battle) got to wear a "Toga Picta" (a bright "Tyrian Purple" toga with gold embroidery). At the time, an ounce of good "Tyrian Purple" dye cost many times more than a pound of gold. First manufactured by the Phoenicians, it took more than ten thousand Murex mollusks to make one raw wool toga into a purple "Toga Picta".
- The history of adornment can be traced back to the Minoan period in Greece (circa 2,500 BC), where Amethyst has been found as polished cabochons set into gold rings. Popular in the classic parure of the 19th Century, Amethyst was a favorite gem featured in Art Nouveau jewellery. To this day, Amethyst is a preferred gem of jewellery designers. A major reason for this popularity is Amethysts wide availability, affordable price and ease with which it lends itself to creative cutting and design concepts.
- Like many other gemstones, the quality of Amethyst varies according to its source. Amethyst from the Americas can be found in large sizes as opposed to African Amethyst (typically mined in Madagascar), which is small but carries a higher saturation in colour. Dark, highly saturated, Amethyst is also found in Australia. The Siberian variety is deep purple with occasional red and blue flashes and commands the highest price. However, the most prolific origin is Brazil, and if we were to believe Dionysus's wine was indeed the source of its colour, Brazilian Amethyst would have been born from the finest vintages.
- First appearing in Europe in 1727, Brazilian Amethyst soon became highly fashionable and expensive. Amethyst was very popular during the 18th Century in France and England, and many affluent families invested large amounts of money in this gemstone. For example, a necklace of Amethysts was purchased at a very high price for Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), wife of George III of England. However, prices soon declined as Amethyst from the Ural Mountain deposits (discovered in 1799) and Brazil flooded the market. While this made Amethyst more affordable, it also gravely affected the fortunes of those who had invested their savings in this gemstone, with many going bankrupt as a result.
- The chief mining areas for Brazilian Amethyst are Minas Gerais, Bahia and Maraba. Brazilian Amethyst varies in colour saturation from pale to medium lilac, but never quite reaches a dark purple of high saturation, as the colour is highly concentrated in the tips of the visible termination of each crystal. Neighboring Uruguay offers spectacularly beautiful yet highly affordable varieties of Amethyst that were only discovered a few years ago.
- Rose de France Amethyst (also known as Lavender Amethyst) is the name for Brazilian Amethyst of a pastel lilac pinkish hue. Rose de France Amethyst is a very clean gemstone that displays lilac shades of purple, with pinikish tones that are particularly evident in bright light. Despite its pastel colours, Rose de France Amethyst was a very popular Victorian gem even though the colors, fabrics and styles of the period were frequently heavy and over colour. While Rose de France Amethyst frequently appears in antique jewellery, it is currently experiencing a revival in popularity as a part of a general awakening to the beauty of pastel gems.