The amethyst birthstone is a beautiful violet gem for all of you February babies out there, and it’s filled with just as much ancient mysticism as you can possibly find in a gemstone. Amethyst is the purple variation of quartz, and its regal color from iron impurities in its crystal lattice and natural irradiation. Its name in ancient Greek actually translates to “not intoxicated,” as it was believed to prevent inebriation. For this reason, the Greeks used to make amulets and decorated their drinking vessels with the stone in an effort to prevent themselves from engaging in any kinds of embarrassing or deplorable behavior during social festivities. Needless to say, it’s a good thing they didn’t have cars back then. We can only imagine how tacky and ineffective an amethyst encrusted steering wheel might be.
The Egyptians also had a similar belief about amethysts. For them the amethyst was the symbolic stone of the goat zodiac, referred to as Capricorn in the west. Since goats were known for eating vines and destroying vineyards, they were seen as the antidote to wine. It therefore fostered a serious and sober mind.
During medieval times, European soldiers would decorate their armor with amethysts in the belief that it would induce a calm and cool-headed mind, ready to calculate risks, intuit enemy tricks, and properly prepare a successful attack. They also believed that the stone had the power to heal battle wounds, protect the wearer from contagious diseases, and if the stone was engraved with a bear it was said to ward off evil spirits.
Throughout the renaissance, violet was one of the most difficult pigments to find, making it highly expensive. In turn, the color violet became a symbol of royalty throughout Europe. The amethyst stone itself continued to carry on its symbolism of sobriety as well as chastity and piety. It was worn by the Catholic clergy in life as well as in death. At the time, it was very uncommon for priests and other clergymen to be buried without some kind of amethyst jewelry. The amethyst birthstone is associated with the Guardian Angel Adnachiel, the Apostle Matthias and the tribe of Dan, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The Tibetans also consider amethyst a sacred stone of Buddha and continue to make prayer beads from amethyst to this day.
Whether you wear your amethyst birthstone as a symbol of sobriety, piety, chastity, protection from enemies and disease, or of royal and spiritual lineage, it is a beautiful stone that has mystified humanity throughout the ages and is bound to turn more than a few heads.