Amethyst is a violet or purple variety of quartz often used as an ornament. The name is generally said to be derived from the Greek a, "not," and methuskein, "to intoxicate," expressing the old belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness. It was held that wine drank out of a cup of amethyst would not intoxicate. However, the word may probably be a corruption of an Oriental name for the stone.

A bed of amethyst crystals on base rock, 13cm (5in) long
A bed of amethyst crystals on base rock, 13cm (5in) long

In the 1900s, the color of amethyst was attributed to the presence of manganese. However, since it is capable of being much altered and even discharged by heat, the color was referred by some authorities to an organic source. Ferric thiocyanate was suggested, and sulfur was said to have been detected in the mineral. Today (2005), impurity atoms are known to be responsible of the colour of the amethyst.

On exposure to heat, amethyst generally becomes yellow, and much of the citrine, cairngorm, or yellow quartz of jewellry is said to be merely "burnt amethyst". Veins of amethystine quartz are apt to lose their color on the exposed outcrop.

Amethyst is composed of an irregular superposition of alternate lamellae of right-handed and left-handed quartz. It has been shown that this structure may be due to mechanical stresses. In consequence of this composite formation, amethyst is apt to break with a rippled fracture, or to show "thumb markings", and the intersection of two sets of curved ripples may produce on the fractured surface a pattern something like that of "engine turning." Some mineralogists, following Sir David Brewster, apply the name of amethyst to all quartz which exhibits this structure, regardless of color.

Amethyst was used as a gemstone by the ancient Egyptians and was largely employed in antiquity for intaglios. Beads of amethyst are found in Anglo-Saxon graves in England. It is a widely distributed mineral, but fine, clear specimens that are suitable for cutting as ornamental stones are confined to comparatively few localities. Such crystals occur either in the cavities of mineral-veins and in granitic rocks, or as a lining in agate geodes. A huge geode, or "amethyst-grotto", from near Santa Cruz in southern Brazil was exhibited at the Dsseldorf Exhibition of 1902. Many of the hollow agates of Brazil and Uruguay contain a crop of amethyst crystals in the interior. Much fine amethyst comes from Russia, especially from near Mursinka in the Ekaterinburg district, where it occurs in drusy cavities in granitic rocks. Many localities in India yield amethyst; and it is found also in Sri Lanka, chiefly as pebbles.

Due to its popularity as a gemstone, several descriptive terms have been coined in the gem trade to describe the varying colors of amethyst. "Rose de France" is usually a pale pinkish lavender or lilac shade (usually the least sought color). The most prized color is an intense violet with red flashes and is called "Siberian", although gems of this color may occur from several locations other than Siberia, notably Uruguay and Zambia. In more recent times, certain gems (usually of Bolivian origin) have shown alternating bands of amethyst purple with citrine orange after treatment, and have been given the name "ametrine".

Purple corundum, or sapphire of amethystine tint, is called Oriental amethyst, but this expression is often applied by jewellers to fine examples of the ordinary amethystine quartz, even when not derived from eastern sources. It should be noted that most professional gemological associations such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gemological Society (AGS) discourage the use of the term "Oriental amethyst" to describe any gem as it may be misleading.

Amethyst occurs at many localities in the United States, but these specimens are rarely fine enough for use in jewellry. Among these may be mentioned Amethyst Mountain, Texas; Yellowstone National Park; Delaware County, Pennsylvania; Haywood County, North Carolina; and Deer Hill, and Stow, Maine. It is found also in the Lake Superior district.

Amethyst in folklore and astrology

Amethyst is the birthstone associated with February. It is also associated with the constellations of Pisces, Aries (especially the violet and purple variety), Aquarius, and Sagittarius. It is a symbol of heavenly understanding, and of the pioneer in thought and action on the philosophical, religious, spiritual and material planes.

Linked with Saint Valentine, tradition maintains that amethyst assists those who wear it in maintain their faithfulness, causing peace and calmness of mind. It was often carried by soldiers on the shafts of spears and on swords as a charm against death, being thought to bring calmness and victory in battle. However it is also thought that the protection and long life that amethyst owner has is being drawn from people nearby/enemies killed, thus stealing other's lifeforce in return of prolonging theirs. It is useful for the revelation of prophetic truth. It is said to strengthen wisdom, faith, and religion, and is an aid in prayer and in dreaming. It is also said to be a charm against witchcraft, poison (it warns of the presence of poison by dimming), and evil thoughts; it is an aid to chastity, a power against all forms of overindulgence, and a strengthener of the mind. It is used as a charm for securing the favor of princes, rulers, churchmen, people of wealth, influence and power, people with prophetic ability, poets, travellers, publishers, and others. Ranking members of the Catholic Church traditionally wear rings set with a large amethyst as part of their office.

Bound to the left wrist, the amethyst is said to enable the wearer to see the future in dreams. It represses evil thoughts and actions, gives a keen business sense, and warns of ill health. The amethyst attracts love and good luck, and helps to prevent drunkenness.

When engraved with the names of the sun and the moon, it is said to protect against sorcery. A winged horse cut on an amethyst is a protective talisman for horses and their riders. Immerse an amethyst in hot water, take it out, dry it carefully, and apply it to headache or toothache.

To dream of amethyst indicates success to a traveller, clergyman, sailor, philosopher, teacher, or mystic; also protection, faith, and fruitful thoughts.

See also

de:Amethyst es:Amatista fr:Amthyste ga:Aimitis hu:Ametiszt nl:Amethist ja:アメジスト pl:Ametyst pt:Ametista sl:Ametist


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools