Amethyst is a beautiful purple gemstone, often used in jewellery. It occurs in all shades from the palest violet to the deepest purple. Chemically Amethyst is a variety of quartz – the purple colour comes from iron and other impurities in the stone. It is found across the world and has long been prized for its unique colouring and properties.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February and is associated with Pisces in the Zodiac. It is also associated with the Wind Element and the planet Saturn. It is also the gemstone associated with the 6th marriage anniversary. But what is the history of this beautiful stone, and how can it benefit you?
The name “amethyst” comes from the Greek amethystos meaning “not intoxicate”. They believed that amethyst protected against drunkenness and even carved goblets out of it in the hope that they could drink as much as they liked without consequence. A Greek myth attributes the purple colour to when Dionysus poured wine over a white quartz statue of Amethystos. Amethystos had been on her way to Artemis when tigers, conjured by Dionysus attacked her. Artemis turned her to white quartz to protect her and Dionysus, full of remorse, poured his wine and dyed the statue.
In more modern times it has become the custom for Anglican bishops to wear an episcopal ring set with amethyst as a specific reference to the description of the Apostles as “not drunk” at Pentecost. Catholic bishops also wear amethyst to symbolise their piety. For this reason, it is also known as Bishops’ stone.
In medieval Europe soldiers, too, believed in its properties of protection and would carry amethyst beads to promote healing and level-headedness. It also implied royalty, being one of the five Cardinal Stones, and was used to decorate English regalia. Amethyst beads have also been found in Anglo-Saxon graves.
The Egyptians admired the beauty of amethyst and it was often engraved with hieroglyphs or other images in high value jewellery. They believed that it would guard against guilty or fearful feelings and would protect against self-deception.
It is said that the ninth stone in the breastplate of the Jewish High Priest in antiquity was an amethyst engraved with the name of one of the ten tribes of Israel.
To the Victorians it symbolised devotion and was therefore the ideal gemstone with which to adorn brooches and rings to be gifted six years into a marriage. They also considered it inappropriate for any but married women to wear “flashy” gemstones, of which amethyst was popular with the middle-classes. It was also a common choice for the letter “A” in message rings, for example set with Diamond, Emerald and Ruby to spell “DEAR”
Tibetan Buddhists consider amethyst to be sacred and make prayer beads from it which are often strung together to create energising prayer bracelets or malas. It is the stone of the Seventh Chakra or Crown Chakra. It also contributes to the idea of reincarnation through its power to access higher thought processes.
In the Old-World amethyst was, at times, as highly prized as diamond due to its properties and colour. Large deposits were found in the New World – especially in Brazil and its rarity decreased along with its price. Much modern amethyst is laboratory grown which makes it cheaper to produce than mined amethyst. Although beautiful as a gemstone it is imbued with many properties and can be used in numerous ways.
The primary use of amethyst is for its ability to focus the mind and unlock intellectual potential. It is used to promote “sobriety” in a much more wider sense of improving clarity of thought and avoiding emotional bias rather than simply avoiding the unwanted effects of alcohol. Worn as a necklace, earrings or hair clip it can soothe the mind and reduce irritability and mood swings. Some users also believe it can soothe headaches.
Many people like to use amethyst around the house. It is a beautiful stone to look at, but it can also influence your daily life. In the main living room, it can promote family bonding and communication. Amethyst in the office regulates the temper and can improve decision making. It can also be used as a natural tranquilliser and a crystal under your pillow may offer relief to those who find it hard to drop off to sleep and can promote healing dreams. Placing a crystal in the bathroom can amplify the soothing effects of a calming bath.
Followers of the tenets of Feng Shui may wish to play an amethyst in the wealth corner of their home where it can improve the flow of prosperity.
Using amethyst in your meditation or mindfulness routine can reap huge benefits to your mental state. Amethyst can be used to amplify your intentions and healing thoughts to the rest of the universe or to imbue yourself with the power locked within.
Amethyst is a good crystal to use when you wish to focus on trusting yourself and patiently waiting for a goal.