The new year is already flying by so quickly! It is now February…the month symbolizing love and romance colored in red, pink, and purple…or amethyst, its traditional birthstone. Amethyst is a violet variety of the mineral, quartz. When manganese is present in clear quartz, it produces amethyst. The amount of iron it contains will alter the hue of purple which can range from pale lilac to deep violet.
The pale colors are often referred to as “Rose de France” and can be found set in Victorian jewelry whose era spanned from 1837 – 1901. The deeper colors, however, are the most valuable.
Amethyst has been used in making ornamental objects for thousands of years. It was actually the first gemstone to ever be carved in the shape of a heart. Both Greek and Roman women wore amethyst as a charm, perhaps in the shape of a heart, to keep their husbands in love with them.
Amethyst comes from the Greek word amethystos translated as “not intoxicated.” Wine goblets were carved from it because it was believed that the stone protected its owner from the effects of drunkenness, not only from wine but also from the intoxicating effects of being in love! This gemstone still symbolizes sobriety to this day.
At different times throughout history, amethyst was considered to be worth as much as a diamond. Wealthy monarchs have used amethyst as a symbol of royalty. Amethyst was a personal favorite of Queen Catherine the Great of Russia (1729 – 1796). You can even find some of the British Crown Jewels decorated with it.
Since that time, amethyst has been lowered to the “semi-precious” classification due to the discovery of huge Brazilian deposits and many other places it can be mined. It is found in large geodes within volcanic rocks in countries such as South Korea, Austria, Zambia, Ontario, and the U.S. including Texas, Maine, and Pennsylvania. What a great benefit to our generation as it is now so much more affordable!
After learning all about amethyst, its history, and everything it represents, I have a new appreciation and will be on the lookout during my vintage shopping trips for those prized purple pieces. I picked out a few of my favorites below that I have repurposed from a clip earring (left), a brooch (center) and an Austrian crystal pin (right), all from the 1950s era:
Celebrate the month of February wearing something red or pink. But if you want to feel like a sober royal, wear amethyst.
Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at kingdomsparkle.com.
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