Amethyst is one of the most valued types of quartz, the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s continental crust. It’s made up of silicon and oxygen, which combine in many, many different ways to give tremendous varieties of this crystal. In Europe and the Middle East, varieties of quartz have been the most commonly used minerals used since ancient times in the making of jewelry and hardstone carvings.
Gemstone amethyst ranges in color from delicate green to pale lilac to deep purple, and can be found in combination with other minerals such as citrine, its partner in the formation of ametrine. Famously found in dramatic geodes that have to be cracked open to reveal their inner treasure, it can also form as exterior crystals of stalactites when mineralized water drips inside of caves for millions of years. It’s mined in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Argentina, as well as in Zambia, Namibia and other African countries. Very dark amethyst, mostly in small sizes, is also mined in Australia. It has a Mohs hardness of 7, and a trigonal crystal structure. The deepest colors are generally the most valued, though the lighter colored crystals certainly have their ardent fans (green amethyst inspires special devotion).
According to Greek legend, Dionysis (god of wine) was so annoyed by the virgin huntress Artemis that he set his sacred tigers upon a maiden attending her shrine. To preserve the maiden, whose name was Amethyst, Artemis petrified her in sparkling quartz. In regret and sorrow for the virgin’s demise, Dionysis poured the wine from his cup over the statue, which immediately and permanently became infused with the purple of the grape.
Metaphysical: With long use throughout various cultures, amethyst’s name translates as “non-intoxicating” and was believed to counteract drunkenness. Amethysts have a soothing and relaxing effect on people, believed to promote restful sleep when placed on the body or under a pillow. It’s said to promote shrewdness in business matters, give victory and quicken the mind to help control negative thoughts. Amethyst is the birthstone for February birthdays and all Pisceans, and was believed to correlate with the planet Neptune by certain ancient mystics. Amethyst, like other purple stones, is associated with the third eye and crown chakras primarily. It can also open the heart chakra.