Amethyst - February birthstone

If your birthday is in February, your birthstone is the amethyst. Although many people think that the amethyst is a purplish stone, many amethysts are actually colorless. Amethysts, which are found in abundance in many countries, range in color from pale lavender to vivid purple. The best quality amethyst has medium to medium dark hues or a vivid purple hue. When amethyst is heated, it loses its color or changes it into a yellow gem known as the Citrine.

The amethyst is actually a coarse-grained silica mineral quartz. Its color may stem from the fact that the stone contains more iron oxide than other types of quartz. Long prized for its beautiful violet color, amethyst is considered a semiprecious gem. Since quartz is piezoelectric, amethysts and other types of quartz stones are used in electronics.

The amethyst is traditionally given for fourth and sixth marriage anniversaries. In Greek legend, Bacchus, the god of wine, was insulted by human and swore that he would kill the next human he encountered by setting fierce tigers upon him. The next human that the god encountered was a lovely woman named Amethyst. The goddess Diana turned the woman into a stunning statue of quartz in order to protect her from the revenge of the tigers. When Bacchus saw what had happened because of his hasty revenge, he wept tears of wine onto the statue, turning the amethyst stone a beautiful purple.

In the past, purple was associated with royalty, and so the amethyst also became associated with royalty. The jewelry of Egyptian royalty, Catherine the Great of Russia, and even the British crown jewels all feature amethysts. Amethyst jewelry has been found as far back as 3000 B.C. in Egypt and parts of Asia. In the 1800s, pale amethysts, known as "Rose de France" became very popular and were set in a wide range of Victorian jewelry.

When selecting amethysts, look for stones that have a color that appeals to you. In general, deeper purple and more vivid colors will cost more. However, even the most expensive amethyst sent to be quite affordable when compared with other precious stones. Once you've purchased your amethyst, be sure to keep it out of the sun when not in use. In many cases, amethysts will fade is exposed to the sun. To clean your amethyst, use warm soapy water and a soft bristle brush or use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner -- most likely available at your jewelry store. Protect your amethyst from sudden temperature changes and strong chemicals.

Amethyst have been considered to symbolize sincerity, sobriety, security, and peace of mind. Many people believed and continue to believe that this gemstone magnifies right brain activity and psychic abilities. Some believe that it purifies the blood, energizes the body, and strengthens the immune system. Some people use the amethyst to improve blood sugar or to ease headaches. In ancient times, amethysts were thought to protect owners from drunkenness. In fact, amethyst derives from the Greek work "amethystos" meaning "not drunken." Some used the amethyst as a loved charm and some thought the stone could encourage celibacy. In Tibet, the stone is associated with the Buddha and many religious items are crafted from it.