Gem of the month: January’s amethyst and its properties
While amethyst is the official gemstone for the month of January, the striking violet hues of this semi-precious stone make it a popular choice for many people, even those without a January birthday.
In addition to its beauty, amethyst is valued for its reputed healing properties. Read on to learn more about this remarkable stone and why it has remained one of the world’s most valued natural prizes since ancient times.
The use of amethyst dates back to the days of ancient Egypt and Greece, where it was used for adornment, as well as personal protection. The Greeks in particular believed the stone could protect imbibers from drunkenness, and associated it with the god of wine, Bacchus, due to its violet colouring. Drinking vessels were frequently bedecked with the gem in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.
Medieval soldiers also used the gem for protection in battle and, later, Christian bishops employed the use of the stone to represent their sobriety – perhaps as a nod to the ancient Greeks.
Amethyst has experienced drastic changes in value throughout history. The stone was used for centuries in royal crown jewels and religious jewellery, and, as such, was considered to be very valuable. In fact, prior to the 18th century, amethyst held the same worth as some of today’s most prized stones – diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.
However, since that time, large deposits of the gemstone have been discovered, significantly reducing its value among collectors.
The physical properties of amethyst are unique. The stone is a variety of quartz that contains iron impurities and other trace elements that give it its purple hue. Irradiation, or exposure to radiation, also contributes to its colouring.
Colours of the stone can range from a light pinkish-purple to a bold, deep violet. Red and blue are secondary hues of the stone, which may or may not be present as well. Natural stones often have stripes of colour that vary in intensity. These stripes usually run parallel to the face of the stone, resulting in inconsistent colouring and making it difficult for jewellers to cut into a homogenous stone.
Many New Age practitioners also attest to the other, more mystical properties of the amethyst stone. The gem is frequently used during meditation, as it is said to have calming properties that can enhance intuition by bringing together the emotional and spiritual planes of one’s psyche.
Amethyst is also said to assist in lucid dreaming and clairvoyance. The stone’s past use for sobriety continues in modern times, with believers carrying or wearing the gem to combat addictions and resist destructive behaviours regarding alcohol and drugs.
Additionally, the protective elements that medieval people valued have also spanned the centuries, with many using the stone for protection while travelling.
Amethyst is clearly one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Whether you value it for its undeniable beauty or for its unique properties, this is a gem that has proven its worth by the test of time.