Daily Archives: February 6, 2014

Birthstones – Amethyst

Birthstones are a western tradition dating back to ancient Judaism. They are different stones that represent each month of the year. These stones are often used in personalized jewelry. The birthstone for February is the amethyst.

The first known reference to birthstones was by the 1st century historian Josephus. He stated that there was a connection between birth month, twelve gemstones, and the zodiac. Which twelve gemstones were the originals is subject to debate. In Exodus, there are 12 stones on the Breastplate of Aaron, which was historically worn by the high priest of Judaism. Each stone was said to represent one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. However, there are various different lists of which stones were used, and even Josephus had two different sets of gemstones he used.

By the 20th century, everyone had their own set of birthstones for each month. To correct this issue, In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers met in Kansas to establish a standard, making an official birthstone for each month. Today, most months have more than one birthstone, and they can be used interchangeably. February, however, only has the amethyst.

Example of an amethyst ring.

Amethyst is, in the simplest terms, a purple quartz. Amethysts are quartz that grew near irradiated iron, and therefore they have irradiated iron impurities in them. This iron is what gives the gemstone its purple hue. The stone used to be considered one of the “cardinal gemstones,” along with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Amethysts have lost this status after large deposits were found in Brazil, destroying its value. The majority of amethysts in the world now come from Brazil. The most valuable amethysts are deep purple with hints of red. These usually come from Russia.

The word amethyst comes from the Greek word amethustos. This word means not intoxicated. The name comes from the ancient Greek belief that amethysts would prevent them from getting drunk, so they made drinking glasses out of the stone. Amethysts were also used by ancient Egyptians and Romans for engravings.


Roman engraving of Emperor Caracalla

In the medieval era, a belief was held in Europe that amethysts had powers of healing and protection. Knights and lords would wear them into battle to help protect them. They were also used during the Renaissance to protect against diseases. Even Leonard da Vinci believed in the powers of the amethyst; he believed amethysts would do away with evil thoughts and increase his intelligence. Today, some people believe that amethysts have powers of calming and purifying. They are also heavily used in Feng-Shui.

At Renaissance Jewelers, we are very familiar with amethysts. Besides our multitude of geodes, we have a great selection of amethyst jewelery. If the ring above is out of your price range, we also have this unique piece.

Sterling silver amethyst leaf ring

If you have any amethyst jewelry that you would like to share with us, we would love to see it! We are also glad to any answer any questions you may have. Tweet us @rrenaissance, Instagram @rrenaissance, or post on our Facebook Timeline at https://www.facebook.com/renaissancejewelry.

If you have any interest in either pre-made or custom designed amethyst jewelry, please call us at 352-335-7188, or email us at jewelry@gator.net. Have a wonderful day.