The birthstone for February is the amethyst, a lovely purple stone. Amethyst is a member of the quartz family and only comes in one colour, purple, although that colour can range from a pinky purple to a deep intense purple. Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History, compared some amethysts to the colour of Tyrian red wine which had a dark purple hue. In early times, Greek believed that amethysts could prevent drunkeness and Anglican bishops’ rings were often set with amethysts in recognition of the biblical reference to the apostles being sober at Pentecost. Romans used amethysts for their intaglio rings

amethyst collier 1IMG_3475
Victorian gold collier necklace with graduated amethysts, 9ct (in Navette on Ruby Lane)

Amethysts have a Mohs hardness of 7 so are tough enough to be used in rings as well as other pieces of jewellery. They are generally heated to improve their colour. Some will show strong zoning of light and dark areas.  The stronger purple stones are the stones in most demand.

amethyst bracelet 1IMG_3471
Antique 18ct gold bangle with 7 graduated amethysts (in Navette on Ruby Lane)

Amethysts are used a lot in antique jewellery, usually set in gold as the contrast of colours are striking. Pearls also work well with amethysts.

In early history, amethysts came from Siberia and parts of Germany and  supply of the gemstone began to dwindle, but the discovery of amethysts in Brazil (along with many other gemstones) in the early 18th century led to a revival of the use of the stone in Georgian and Victorian jewellery.

georgian pendant 1IMG_2168
Georgian pendant with large amethyst and four citrines (in Navette on Ruby Lane)

Amethysts are just as popular today.

amethyst drop earrings 1IMG_2481
Vintage amethyst girandole earrings, 9ct (in Navette on Ruby Lane)