Amethyst is February’s Birthstone

Amethyst is the official birthstone for the month of February.  The word “amethyst” comes from the Greek words amethystos or amethustos, meaning “not drunken,” because of the ancient belief that drinking wine from an amethyst cup–or, unfortunately, grinding amethyst into powder and adding it to wine–would help maintain sobriety. Amethyst’s existence has been known since ancient times. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians used amethysts in jewelry and household goods like bowls and cups. Even in ancient Mesopotamia, amethysts were engraved with royal and religious insignia and used as tools to imprint clay tablets. Amethyst has been symbolic of purity and royalty used in jewelry for hundreds of years. Amethyst has long played an important role in religion, as the stone in Christian bishops’ rings and in rosaries.

Amethyst is the most valuable gemstone in the quartz group.  Amethysts naturally occur in shades of purple, reddish-violet, and violet-blue. Some amethyst crystals, particularly those from Brazil or Uruguay, can become yellowish-brown when heated and are then sold as citrine. Amethyst ranks a 7 on Mohs’ hardness scale. 

While some amethysts can fade under prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and high heat, amethyst is typically a very hardy stone with good hardness and toughness. While steam cleaners should be avoided with amethyst jewelry, it is safe to clean amethysts in ultrasonic cleaners or with simple soap, water, and a soft brush.