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February Birthstone: Amethyst - facts and lore

Posted by Gordon Weller GIA GG on

If you were born in February, your birthstone is amethyst – a purple gemstone that has starring roles in the jewelry and regalia of kings and queens. The February birthstone is found in the personal collections of Great Britain’s and Russia’s royal families. Britain’s Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986) commissioned a now famous amethyst necklace. Empress Catherine II (1729-1796) of Russia, also known as Catherine the Great, was particularly fond of amethyst and used the gem in buttons, earrings, necklaces and aigrettes (hair ornaments that usually held feathers, or were in the shape of a feather, and were often set with gems). Ancient cultures also loved amethyst and it has been found in 4,400-year-old jewelry. (1)

Revered by the ancient Greeks as a talisman, Amethyst was thought to entice the highest, purest aspirations of humankind when worn. Amethyst was believed to inspire courage, calm and contemplation. (2)

Amethyst also is the favored gift for the 1st and 6th wedding anniversaries, historically symbolizing sincerity and sacred love. The gem of optimism and good fortune, amethyst reveals the positive vibrations surrounding those who wear it. (2)

A member of the quartz family, amethyst comes in a variety of purple shades of varying intensity – from pale lilac to reddish or bluish violet to deep purple with red highlights. Amethyst is considered the most highly prized variety of quartz, although very affordable. However, amethyst in large sizes and rich, deep colors is rare and more costly. (2)

I recently visited the Gemological Institute of America’s Carlsbad, California main campus and laboratory. In the lobby are a number of gemstone and jewelry-related displays. One display was this strikingly unusual double geode:


This beautiful specimen contains crystals of amethyst (the purple crystals), calcite (the yellow crystal clusters) and agate (the concentric circular shapes encompassed within the amethyst in the upper geode).

While we currently do not have amethyst jewelry in stock, if purple is your color, we have an elegant pair of earrings featuring purple sapphires which were mined from the US state of Montana: Montana Purple Sapphire and Diamond Dangling Earrings in 14 KT Yellow Gold

(1)Source: Gemological Institute of America 

(2) Source: American Gem Trade Association