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The birthstone for February is the purple colored gem called Amethyst, as well as being the stone that represents sixth wedding anniversaries. Legend states that St. Valentine, whose day we celebrate on February 14 - wore a ring in the likeness of a cupid adorned with amethyst stones.
The history of amethyst as jewelry and decorative stones dates back thousands of years. It is mentioned in both the old and new testament of the Bible. Ancient Egyptians used chunks of amethyst to carve animal-shaped amulets. During the middle ages, only those with the highest ranking social status wore amethyst jewels. It was typically reserved for royalty, as the purple shades were associated with nobility. Until the 19th century, Russia was the main source for this stone, but as more sources for amethyst were found, it became more widely available to the public, and today is one of the most popular gems in jewelry. Now, the main sources of amethyst are Africa and South America.
Swedish Amethyst Tiara Parure via The Royal Watcher
One of the most famous pieces of amethyst jewelry in the world is the Swedish amethyst tiara, part of a parure, or a set of jewelry intended to be worn together. Starting its life as a necklace in the Napoleonic court, this set of jewelry made its way to the Swedish royal family where it has been worn by queens and princesses and passed down from generation to generation. The necklace was deemed too large and heavy to wear by Queen Silvia, who had it refashioned into the tiara it is known as today. The other pieces of jewelry in the parure consists of two bracelets that can be clipped together to form a necklace, pendant drop earrings, and a brooch.
The word amethyst is derived from the Greek amethystos, which literally means ‘not drunk.’ The Ancient Greeks believed that amethyst had the power to prevent inebriation, and thought that you could drink all night if you kept an amethyst stone in your mouth, or would even add powdered amethyst to their drinks. Today, it is believed that amethyst will help to promote serenity and fortitude to the wearer.
Amethyst crystals are versatile and can be found in massive sizes, meaning they are the perfect stone for anything from subtle accessories to large, eye-catching statement pieces. They have a hardness of 7 on the moh scale, meaning that they are a durable stone that is resistant to scratches and everyday wear and tear. They are, however, sensitive to heat, and so to clean them, steam or ultrasound methods should be avoided. Instead, use a soft brush and warm soapy water to clean and care for your amethyst.