Amethyst Properties, Meaning, Facts and Photos
1. Amethyst Healing Properties
2. What Colour is Amethyst
3. Amethyst February Birthstone
4. Amethyst Variety of Quartz
5. History of Amethyst
6. Amethyst Greek Myth
7. Article Pictures
8. Shop Amethyst
Amethyst Healing Properties
The healing properties of amethyst are associated with strength and power. This is likely to have come about because its colour comes from iron.
Amethyst is one of the most popular crystals used for its metaphysical healing properties.
A natural tranquilliser, it has a harmonising effect on mind, body and spirit. By calming negative thought patterns amethyst promotes mental clarity.
Its gentle and serene energy eases anxiety, melts away stress and enables the mind to find lasting peace and tranquillity.
Amethyst is an ideal companion for meditation. A crystal placed in the bedroom promotes deep relaxation, restful sleep and soothing dreams.
The meaning of amethyst comes from the belief that it has the ability to counter the effects of alcohol. This came about because the ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus and Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder both likened its colour to wine.
The stone named "amethystos" by Theophrastus was identical to the stone known today as amethyst. The word comes from Greek for "not" and "intoxicate".
This seems to be the reason why amethyst became popular with the church. A single gemstone is often used in ecclesiastical rings worn by bishops and cardinals. Amethyst can also be found in other religious garments.
When used for its healing properties amethyst calms irritability, eases mood swings and controls anger.
It can also be used to enhance spiritual awareness and metaphysical ability. Amethyst calms an overactive mind, improves focus, memory and concentration.
Associated with the crown chakra it creates a connection to higher consciousness promoting spiritual insights and giving access to innate wisdom.
Crystal healing is an alternative therapy that believes the energy of a crystal can be used to promote holistic health.
Whilst it can provide deep relaxation, stress relief and support for emotional well-being it's a complementary practice and not a replacement for medical treatment.
The healing properties of amethyst are highly personal and subjective. Different people may experience different benefits based on their own beliefs, experiences and intentions.
Amethyst can be used for its healing properties in different ways. Healing with crystals must always be approached with an open mind.
What Colour is Amethyst?
The colour of the finest amethyst is slightly reddish-purple. These gem-grade stones have deep saturation and no colour zoning.
Although amethyst in darker shades of purple is also popular, if too dark it can look almost black.
One of the world's oldest gemstones, amethyst is best known for its rich purple coloured crystals. Their colour can however vary significantly.
The colour purple once known as magenta doesn't exist naturally. It can only be produced by combining red and blue. Purple is therefore a perceived colour invented by our eyes and brain.
A rainbow exhibits the full spectrum of colours yet never includes purple. This short video explains why.
Colours have long been known to affect our mood, behaviour and even our emotions. Apart from in the plant kingdom purple is quite rare in nature. Only a small number of purple coloured minerals exist.
Throughout history purple has been associated with religion, royalty and wealth. Today it's also associated with magic, mystery and fantasy.
Purple, white and green were the colours used by the suffragettes. Purple stood for loyalty and dignity, white for purity and green for hope.
To the ancient Egyptians and Romans amethyst crystals were rare, valuable and highly sought after.
Traces of amethyst first appeared in the form of a dye during the Neolithic Age (10,000 BC). Paintings of animals and the outline of human hands have been found on cave walls in France.
The dye used to create these was made from sticks of manganese and hematite powder. The paintings have been dated to 16,000 to 25,000 years BC.
Until 1856 the colour purple could only be produced from natural dyes hence was rarely seen. In the 15th century BC it was produced from the mucous of the murex sea snail.
Known as purple dye murex or tyrian purple, it was named after the Phoenician city of Tyre, modern day Lebanon.
Thousands of snails were crushed to produce an ounce of dye. In 2008 tyrian purple was recreated using the original formula. 12,000 sea snails created just enough dye to colour a small piece of material.
It was only after huge reserves of amethyst were found in South America in the 1800s that it became a more affordable gemstone. Today amethyst can be found in many countries around the world including the United Kingdom.
Amethyst February Birthstone
Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February on the modern, traditional and ayurvedic birthstone chart. It's also associated with the zodiac sign of pisces.
Amethyst crystals are widely used for decorative purposes. When used as a gemstone it can either be faceted or polished as a cabochon.
Geodes are also popular and no collection of rocks and minerals would be complete without one.
Most of the world's finest amethyst crystals come from South America.
The colour of amethyst can vary widely within the same crystal. This characteristic is known as colour zoning.
Chevron amethyst which exhibits large sections of milky white quartz is an extreme example.
In the UK chevron amethyst tends to be known as banded amethyst.
On Mohs scale of mineral hardness amethyst like most varieties of quartz grades 7.
Amethyst Variety of Quartz
Amethyst is the purple variety of the mineral quartz.
When used for its metaphysical healing properties it should not be charged in sunlight. The colour of these crystals is delicate and will fade over time if exposed to UV light.
Unless kept away from daylight completely most amethyst will experience some degree of fading.
One article I read in an influential online magazine recommends leaving amethyst in the sun for a few hours to recharge it. It said as an alternative it could be placed in a salt bath to remove negative energies that may have accumulated.
Follow this guidance and your amethyst is unlikely to remain beautiful for very long.
With amethyst being a type of quartz it's pretty tough so can be soaked in water. Whilst it's generally recommended not to soak crystals in salt water because salt is a corrosive, small amounts in the short term wont cause any damage (to amethyst).
Amethyst belongs to the mineral class of tectosilicates which is a subgroup of silicate minerals. These materials have silicate tetrahedrons as their basic building blocks. The silicates are fairly resilient to chemical reactions.
Silicate minerals tend not to be affected by salt because they don't contain ions that can be replaced by sodium ions from salt solutions. The chemical bonds that hold the atoms in a silicate together are very strong so are not easily broken by external factors such as salt.
It's worth mentioning however that some silicates may become damaged from this interaction. The extent depends on the physical and chemical properties of the specific mineral such as its crystal structure, composition and texture.
The colour of amethyst comes from impurities of iron. Iron alone however won't bring about a change in colour. For the transformation to take place the quartz crystals must be exposed to heat. In nature that comes from radiation.
Amethyst is often heated in industrial ovens which brings about a change in colour. The process of heating causes a gradual reduction in the amount of iron.
By disrupting a mineral's chemical composition colour can often be altered.
Heat treatments mimic natural geological processes. They have long been used to remove unwanted wisps of colour or to lighten, darken or change the colour of a stone completely.
Much of the world's commercial grade citrine is heated amethyst. That's because natural citrine is actually quite rare.
When heated to 450°C (842°F) amethyst crystals turn yellow. Turn up the heat and they turn orange and then orange-brown. The final colour is determined not only by temperature but also by the length of time the crystals are heated.
It's normally quite easy to tell natural citrine from heated amethyst. Amethyst that has been heated tends to be a deeper shade of yellow or burnt orange.
Whilst the colour of natural citrine can vary, the shade is rarely as intense and tends to be uniform throughout the stone.
White quartz or subtle shades of orange or yellow will often be visible towards the base of the crystal. This is because in amethyst there's not as much iron in the lower section.
Look closely at an amethyst crystal and you'll see the depth of colour increases towards the tip. It's believed this is because of the mix of iron in the water as the crystal grows.
Prasiolite is a rare green variety of quartz. Most commercial grade stones are produced by heating amethyst. It's often referred to as green amethyst which is a misnomer.
Amethyst is a geological name used to describe the purple variety of the mineral quartz. Quartz in any other colour cannot be amethyst.
The History of Amethyst
Altering the properties of stones to enhance or change their colour has a long history. Theophrastus ancient Greek philosopher [c.370-285 BC] documented in his treatise Theophrastus On Stones;
"amethyst loses its colour in the fire like the sapphire and emerald".
He remarked on the colour of amethyst being similar to wine and said along with rock crystal it could be found by "dividing other stones".
He says quartz and amethyst can be found in veins, cavities or lining the interior of geodes. Crystals are only revealed when rocks are broken open.
Approximately three hundred years later ancient Roman author, naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote about "giving quartz the colour of emeralds" and "how to change one gemstone into another". This is believed to be a reference to the change of colour when certain stones are heated.
Amethyst was highly prized in ancient Egypt. The earliest reference to amethyst was 3100 BC.
The first English translation of Theophrastus On Stones (renamed as The History of Stones) was published in 1746. In a footnote the author John Hill writes;
"Although the ancients knew of five species of amethyst, we have at least as many among the jewellers at present, though they are not at the pains to distinguish them by particular names, they divide them in general into Oriental and Occidental. The former are very fierce but of great hardness, lustre and beauty, the latter are had from many places particularly Saxony, Germany and Bohemia".
It's believed in the past translucent stones of a similar colour were grouped together. Amethyst would have been with fluorite, corundum (blue corundum is sapphire) and possibly tourmaline.
Oriental amethyst was a reference to stones from the East. Occidental means "relating to the West".
Pliny also compared the colour of amethyst to wine. In his encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia (Natural History) he writes;
"We will now commence with another class of precious stones, those of a purple colour or whose tints are derived from purple. To the first rank belongs the amethystos".
He goes on to say;
"All of these stones are transparent and of an agreeable violet colour and easy to engrave. Those of India have in perfection the very richest shades of purple and it is to attain this colour that the dyers in purple direct all their endeavours"
From here detail becomes a little sketchy. Historians are reliant on translations of the original text to work out what stones Pliny is referring to.
Being exceptionally hard corundum would not have been easy to engrave. It's therefore believed it was not included in the group known as amethystos.
This is supported by Pliny's description of this group of stones in which he says, "they have a fine mellowed appearance to the eye and not dazzling the sight like the colours of the carbunculas (garnet)."
He says "the colour of one is almost hyacinth whilst another borders on crystal with the purple gradually passing off into white".
He says it has little value because when viewed sideways and held up to the light, fine amethyst (a reference to corundum or blue sapphire) should always have a purple brilliance like that of the carbunculus "slightly inclining to a tint of rose".
Pliny said the name amethystos according to "some authorities" comes from Greek for "not" and "to intoxicate". This stems from it being "a supposed preservative against inebriety".
It's believed with this statement he's not referring solely to the group of stones known as amethystos but to all groups of stones which are purple or whose tints are derived from purple. That includes corundum, fluorite and possibly garnet amongst others.
In 1846 "A Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature" was published by John Kitto. In this reference he talks about how the ancient Egyptians counterfeited precious stones one being amethyst.
Amethyst is believed to have been the third stone in the third row of the high priest breastplate. This religious garment used during biblical times was worn by the Jewish high priest.
In the Middle Ages amethyst was believed to encourage celibacy and symbolise piety hence was favoured by the church.
More recently a large amethyst crystal can be seen in the Royal Sceptre, part of the British Crown Jewels. This huge stone is mounted below a diamond encrusted cross with an emerald in the centre.
King Charles III held the sceptre in his right hand during his coronation.
Amethyst Greek Myth
Countless articles that talk about the origins of the name "amethyst" make reference to a myth from Greek mythology.
The only known reference to amethyst in Greek mythology relates to a stone given to Dionysus (Greek God of wine) by the titan Rhea to preserve the wine-drinker's sanity.
In 1576 a book of poems was published by French poet Remy Belleau. One bore a striking resemblance to this apparent Greek myth.
Published less than ten months before his death, there is nothing to suggest it was based on text from Greek mythology.
Bacchus is the name adopted by the Romans for Dionysus Greek God of wine.
"Bacchus was pursuing a maiden named Amethyste who refused his affections. Amethyste prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the goddess Diana answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethyste's desire to remain chaste, Bacchus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple"
In recent years many different versions have appeared. Each time it's republished the author claims incorrectly the myth about amethyst comes from Greek mythology.
No factual evidence exists to support any such myth ever having existed.
This is a perfect example of how easy it is to spread inaccurate information online. So much of what we read on various websites especially those related to crystals has been plagiarised from other sources.
Very rarely do those who intend on republishing the information investigate whether it's factual.
The amethyst geode at the top is from our collection.
The second photo was taken during one of our many visits to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C
The chevron amethyst stones are from our collection.
The cluster of amethyst crystals are courtesy of Stan Celestian.
The citrine crystals are heated amethyst.
The article on cylinder seals is clickable and redirects to the original source.
The next two photos are courtesy of Ron Wolf and Stan Celestian.
The next amethyst geode is on display in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Photo by Stone Mania.
Our last photo of the ancient amethyst ring comes from the Smithsonian Magazine. It links to the full article.
Photos are clickable and redirect to the non-compressed image.