When romance is in the air, the February birthstone charms us with a vivid purple glow. The stone of Saint Valentine, amethyst has been loved for centuries and is believed by many to have powerful healing qualities.
It may be a familiar gemstone, used in a wide range of jewellery, but amethyst’s beauty and quality should not be underestimated. Its signature purple hue makes this quartz stone particularly striking against silver, platinum and white gold or as a stunning centrepiece, framed by sparkling diamonds.
Today, they are plentiful and used in jewellery to suit every budget, but gem-quality amethysts were once considered as valuable as rubies.
You may be surprised to learn that this beautiful stone got its name from the Greek ‘amethystos’, meaning a ‘remedy against drunkenness’.
In Ancient Greece, because of its colour, amethyst was associated with Bacchus, the god of wine. People began wearing the stone to protect against becoming intoxicated and to keep a clear head.
While diamonds and other precious gemstones are valued according to the four Cs, colour is almost everything when it comes to amethysts. Generally, the darker the colour, the higher the price tag. Stones with the deepest purple colour, known as Siberian amethysts, are the most valuable. Paler pinkish gems, sometimes called Rose de France amethysts, are usually more affordable. When choosing an amethyst, however, check its overall quality as inclusions decrease a stone’s value.
Amethyst has held strong spiritual and sacred meanings across continents and throughout the centuries. Considered sacred to Buddha, Tibetans use it to make prayer beads, while early Christians associated it with the suffering of Christ.
A popular new age crystal, amethyst is still associated with wellbeing today. Healing properties linked to this gemstone include enhancing the immune system, regulating hormones and reducing headaches.
While there is no scientific evidence for these claims, many people report that wearing amethysts gives them a sense of serenity and calm. Kate Hudson, Holly Willoughby and Victoria Beckham are among the celebrities reported to be advocates for the therapeutic qualities of amethyst and other crystals.
Perhaps not surprisingly given its regal colour, the February birthstone has been admired by royalty for thousands of years. Catherine the Great (Empress of Russia) adorned herself with amethyst jewellery back in the 18th century. Fine amethyst jewellery has also been found among collections owned by Cleopatra and Empress Josephine of France.
Among pieces worn by royalty today is the stunning Napoleonic Amethyst Parure Tiara, which features 15 huge oval amethysts. Originally set in a necklace, the stones are now the centrepieces of this dazzling tiara, which has been worn by Queen Silvia of Sweden and her daughter, Crown Princess Victoria.
One of the most famous pieces of amethyst jewellery is the lavish Indian-inspired Duchy of Windsor amethyst and turquoise necklace. This show-stopping piece was created in 1947 by Cartier for Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor and sold for $605,000 at a Sotheby’s Geneva auction in 1987.
Amethyst is the stone of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of romantic love. According to legend, he wore an amethyst ring carved with the image of Cupid. It is also the gemstone traditionally given on a sixth wedding anniversary.
Some say that amethyst opens the heart to love and forgiveness. What better reason to choose this semi-precious gem for the month of February, when love is in the air?
Whether your amethyst jewellery symbolises love, enhances your wellbeing or simply adds some purple sparkle to your collection, make sure you protect your precious item. We can advise you on the best specialist jewellery insurance.