When I look at my photos of jewellery I have purchased over the years, I see a lot of amethyst set pieces. It really is a lovely stone. Amethyst is a member of the quartz family, a transparent stone with colours ranging from a pale pink mauve to a deep purple, as in the ring in the photo at the top of the post.

Vintage gold and amethyst earrings

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.

Victorian heart ring

Amethysts were used by the Egyptians and they were a popular stone for use in seals and intaglio rings used by ancient Romans and Greeks. Two large amethysts are part of the British royal regalia.

Antique amethyst silver gilt pendant

Stones were originally mined in Siberia and parts of Germany and were often very large in size. Supply was limited, however, until the early 18th century when there were discoveries of large deposits (along with many other gemstones) in Brazil. This discovery led to a revival of the use of the stone in Georgian and Victorian jewellery. Amethysts became even more readily accessible in the latter part of the 19th century with large deposits in Brazil and in Uruguay. It is and has been mined in the USA, Mexico, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Japan and Australia.