The amethyst, the February birth stone, is such a pretty stone. It displays lovely colours, ranging in hue from lilac though to violet and to a deep purple. It has been a popular stone throughout the centuries, with examples of jewellery being excavated from the Neolithic period up the the ancient Egyptians. It was a popular stone for use in seals and intaglio rings used by ancient Romans and Greeks and was often used in Church regalia throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Antique amethyst and pearl brooch (in Navette on Ruby Lane)

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 drunkenness and Anglican bishops’ rings were often set with amethysts in recognition of the biblical reference to the apostles being sober at Pentecost.

Antique amethyst pendant (in Navettejewellery on Etsy)

Amethyst used to be quite a rare stone and so was very valuable. It was mined in the Ural Mountains in Russia and the Idar-Oberstein area of West Germany but deposits were limited. It was associated with royalty and power as only the rich could afford it. In 1820, though, significant deposits were located in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil by West German miners and its value subsequently dropped as availability increased. However, the gem remained popular during the Victorian era, particularly as it could be found as large stones with strong colour.

Amethyst and gold drop earrings