While many gemstones can achieve the colour purple, the natural glow of an amethyst and its timeless association with royalty makes it the most renowned of all purple gems. At one time, perhaps due to its connection to monarchy, the amethyst was as valuable as the emerald or sapphire. In today’s market the amethyst is an affordable gem which contributes both style and sophistication to any piece of jewellery.
The word “amethyst” is a Greek word meaning “without drunkenness” due to its ancient use as a stone of sobriety and protection from poison. As a gem, it possesses a unique quality known as colour zoning which, depending on the angles of the cuts, can produce different shades and textures of purple. It is a variety of quartz and is found in locations worldwide. Of all available quartz, amethyst is the most valuable and prized form.
Amethyst is most prevalent as small pyramid-like structures and can often be found within the internal lining of rock formations known as geods. These are geological structures of various sizes occuring in sedimentary and volcanic rock. In some areas, such as Mexico, massive prisms of amethyst have been discovered and are highly sought after by collectors. Only two locations in Canada are known to contain significant deposits of amethyst, the Bay of Fundy and Thunder Bay.
In addition to being the birthstone of February, amethyst is also a symbol of understanding and philosophy; many members of the Catholic church wear amethyst to accent this quality.