Why is amethyst the birthstone for February?
Amethyst is a variety of purple quartz and has been decorating jewellery as far back as 2,000 BC.
The Ancient Egyptians and Ancient Greeks both carved the stones and wore them for their protection, the English even adorned regalia with amethysts to symbolise royalty.
For centuries amethyst has been considered a powerful and protective semiprecious gemstone for those who hold it close. From healing powers to promoting a clear mind, this stone is believed to even calm anxiety and anger. This can possibly be attributed to the Ancient Greeks who believed if you carried an amethyst you could drink all night whilst remaining sober. In fact, the word Amethystos translates as ‘not drunk’ in Ancient Greek.
Another legend is that St. Valentine wore an amethyst ring carved with Cupid's portrait. This may be why the amethyst has always been the birthstone for February as it signifies love, amongst its other believed properties.
What is amethyst?
Composed of quartz, amethyst is a stunning blend of violet and red colours and is one of the most abundant materials found in the Earth’s crust. Quartz itself is the mineral that is found in a variety of colours, including colourless which is simply known as rock crystal, brown smoky quartz, pink rose quartz and golden-yellow quartz which is known as citrine – one of the birthstones for November.
Amethyst gets its colour from the concentration of molecules along the contact zone of twinned lamellae. Simply put, two crystals growing side by side will create a concentration on molecules, that then cause the colour. Amethyst also gets its colour by natural irradiation (caused by rock mass when forming in the Earth’s crust)
With a hardness of seven on the Mohs scale, it’s a great option for jewellery pieces.
Where is amethyst found?
Occurring in geodes, rock cavities, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock, amethyst is found across the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, US, and Zambia.
In Australia, quartz is found in many states and territories but amethyst itself is slightly rarer. The Ashburton River area in Western Australia is a good source of gemstone quality amethysts and Victoria and Queensland also provide amethyst gemstones suitable for jewellery.
What’s important about the colour of amethyst?
The value of an amethyst depends almost entirely on its colour. Many qualified gemmologists and jewellers value rich purple coloured amethysts higher than stones that are lighter in colour, or those brown or rust coloured. Similarly to diamonds, the clarity also affects the price, with eye-visible inclusions lowering the cost of the gem.
An amethyst can also have colour variants in its layers, meaning the way in which the gem is cut is critical to showcasing these variations in the final piece. Ametrine is a variety that displays both amethyst and citrine in colour and is very rare. It is created when two individual crystals grow within each other or side by side.
Most impressive amethysts in the world
One of the largest amethyst geodes in the world weighs in at a majestic 14 tonnes and stands five metres in height. Originating from Uruguay, the bright purple geode is the most expensive amethyst ever to be offered at auction, fetching between USD 300,000-400,000 in December 2020.
The Empress of Uruguay, the world's largest amethyst geode, was originally discovered in northern Uruguay. It stands over three metres tall and weighs and impressive two and a half tonnes. This amazing stone was purchased for USD 75,000 and the owners then paid an additional USD 25,00 to transport it to its new home at The Crystal Caves museum in Queensland, Australia.
The Perth Mint Jewellery Boutique
You can find The Perth Mint’s jewellery store inside our landmark heritage-listed building, established by Britain’s Royal Mint in 1899 at our iconic East Perth site in Hay Street.
Our elegant jewellery boutique is home to some of the world’s most exclusive gemstone jewellery. Many of our high-end, hand-selected jewellery pieces are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, as well as the peace of mind that comes with choosing to make a purchase from a Government of Western Australia-owned enterprise with a long-standing reputation for quality and integrity.
Our experts will be happy to assist you to try on precious amethyst jewellery of your choice. See how they look against your skin, ensuring your masterpiece reflects your true individuality.
Come and explore today or book an appointment now.
How do pearls get their colours?
From classic white to vibrant shades of pink, purple, and gold, pearls come in an array of colours. But how exactly do pearls get their colour?