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Gem in the Spotlight: Amethyst

Sobriety, piety, and beauty in a gemstone

Amethyst is a beautiful gemstone that's incredibly affordable.
Amethyst is a beautiful gemstone that’s incredibly affordable.

Amethyst, transparent purple quartz, is the most important quartz variety used in jewelry. Purple has long been considered a royal color so it is not surprising that amethyst has been so much in demand over the years. Because amethyst was thought to encourage celibacy and symbolize piety, amethyst was very important in the ornamentation of Catholic and other churches in the Middle Ages. It was, in particular, considered to be the stone of bishops and bishops still often wear amethyst rings.

The Greek work “amethystos” basically can be translated as “not drunken.” The legend of the origin of amethyst comes from Greek myths. Dionysus, the god of intoxication, was angered one day by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal that crossed his path, creating fierce tigers to carry out his wish. Along came unsuspecting Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Diana turned Amethyst into a stature of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god’s tears stained the quartz purple, creating the gem we know today.

In the end, a gem’s value to a person is not always the price paid but the beauty of the jewelry.

Amethyst was considered to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why wine goblets were often carved from it! The gemstone still symbolizes sobriety. The Amethyst was credited with many other extraordinary attributes. Among its reputed benefits was an ability to quicken the intelligence and make the owner more successful in business, protect the soldier and assure victory, help hunters, guard against contagious diseases, and control evil thoughts.

About 50% of amethysts on the world market are now believed to be synthetic. This has only been discovered in the last few years. Many low cost high quality, deeply colored amethysts are now appearing in inexpensive jewelry. Because the cost of testing is higher than cost of even the natural stones it is not often performed. Beware stones of perfect clarity, calibrated sizes and with precision cutting.

  1. Round Amethyst in Sterling Silver Bezel Necklace front view

    Round Amethyst in Sterling Silver Bezel Necklace

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    Blue Topaz and Amethyst Abstract Ring

    Blue Topaz and Amethyst Abstract Silver Ring

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    Mother circle necklace with 2 gemstones in white metal

    Mother’s Circle Necklace with Gemstones


What is amethyst’s value as a gemstone? Just because some amethysts are cheap, people assume this must be the case for all amethysts. Not so. All though even in very high qualities, amethyst is not out of reach of most consumers. Amethyst’s value is in its beauty not price. It costs relatively little and in most likelihood will not see a strong price increase, but if you spend a little more and get the high grade amethyst, you are getting a gem whose color and brilliance are marvels to behold. In the end, a gem’s value to a person is not always the price paid but the beauty of the jewelry. Amethyst can make some beautiful jewelry.

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