The February birthstone, the amethyst, is one of my favourite gemstones. They are a lovely purple colour, ranging from a pale pink mauve to a deep purple.  They are not an expensive gemstone but are eye-catching without being too over the top.

Late Victorian amethyst and seed pearl cross pendant

Amethysts have a long history as a gemstone, worn by Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. The Greeks believed that amethysts could prevent drunkenness and Anglican Bishops often wore rings set with amethysts, acknowledging the biblical reference to the apostles being sober at Pentecost. They were used a lot for seals and intaglios.

Late Victorian amethyst bracelet

The popularity of amethysts varied depending on their availability. The late 18th and early 19th century saw a growth in demand as the sources in Siberia, parts of Germany and India began to decline. Then new mines were located in Brazil and, for a period, amethysts became less desirable. However, they have remained a constant gem to be used in jewellery up until today.

Vintage amethyst and gold half hoop ring

The fact that amethysts can be found in larger sizes than rubies, alexandrites and other colourful stones has contributed to their continued use. Also, those amethysts with darker purple tones remain very popular.