Having been used in jewellery for over 4,000 years Amethyst is the most well known purple gemstone. Part of the quartz family of minerals, Amethyst is the most valuable variety, and until a large deposit was discovered in Brazil in the 19th Century it was as valuable as Ruby, Sapphire and Emeralds. Amethyst is the birthstone for February and used as the anniversary gemstone for the 6th and 17th year.
The name Amethyst comes from the Greek Amethystos meaning “not intoxicated” due to many beliefs that Amethyst prevents you from becoming drunk, can sharpen the mind and keep away bad thoughts. Both the Greeks and Romans would put powdered Amethyst in wine to prevent drunkenness, and the Romans were thought to use Amethyst goblets to their advantage pouring water in their own and wine in their adversaries, meaning they remained sober whilst seeming to drink.
Purple has long been a colour associated with Royalty, piety and religion and so it is a noble stone, many Bishops’ rings had Amethyst set into them, and it is believed St. Valentine himself had a carved Amethyst ring with a depiction of cupid on it, so ideal for a truly splendid or romantic gift.
Amethyst ranges from a delicate pale lilac colour right the way through to a rich opulent violet, commonly zoned in colour, it is not unusual to have pieces that range in colour in one stone. Amethyst frequently shows interesting and characteristic inclusions, often likened to tiger or zebra stripes. The best quality Amethyst is a rich vibrant purple with hints of red, no tones of brown or grey and free from inclusions and colour zoning.
Unlike some other gemstones Amethyst is not rare in larger sizes, which makes it more affordable for statement pieces and cocktail jewellery or even suites. Prices in Amethyst can range from a few pounds per carat for smaller cabochons up to a few hundred pounds per carat for the highest quality material in the finest cuts. Whilst not an ideal stone to be worn in a ring every day, it will eventually start to wear on facet edges or the dome of a cabochon, it is durable enough to be worn regularly, and with care can last a lifetime. It should be stored so it cannot be scratched by or scratch other items and cleaned with warm water with a little gentle detergent or soap.
Amethyst is commonly treated to improve or induce colour by both heating and irradiation, both of which are permanent stable treatments that add to the beauty of the stone and can make stones much more appealing and improve affordability. Unless otherwise stated all our Amethyst, as with the majority on sale in the UK, will be enhanced in this way. Other treatments, such as coating, dying or impregnation are rare in Amethyst.