Reaching for that second, third, or even fourth glass of wine? Might be wise to drop an amethyst stone into your glass, as legend has it that it can prevent intoxication. This gorgeous purple gem is the birthstone for February and makes for a perfect Valentine’s day gift. It’s also a traditional symbol for the sixth and seventeenth wedding anniversaries.
Myths and Powers
Representing the color of royalty, the amethyst stone has been adorned by Bishops as well as the British monarchy. Its name comes from the Greek amethystos which means “not intoxicated.” The Greeks believed that Bacchus, the god of wine, having just been slighted, was so angry that he vowed to take revenge on the next person he met. Along came the young and beautiful maiden Amethyst, who was a devotee of the goddess Diana. As Amethyst was on her way to Diana’s shrine, Bacchus sprang his guardian tigers on her. She prayed for Diana to intervene. In order to spare her such a terrible fate, the goddess transformed her into a beautiful white crystal. Bacchus, immediately regretful of their brutality, poured the juice of his grapes over the stone giving them their brilliant purple hues. The Greeks considered the amethyst to have a sobering affect which is why they put the stone in their wine glasses. But it also was considered to help prevent over-indulgence and over-zealousness in all matters.
Amethyst goes as far back as the Neolithic period, which is 4,000 B.C. and pieces of amethyst jewelry have been discovered dating back as early as 2,400 B.C. Amethyst stones range in color from deep purple, lilac, lavender and mauve. It is the presence of the mineral iron in quartz which determines how deep the color is. A quartz gem must be purple in order to be amethyst. It occurs in crystalline and massive forms—in Brazil, there are hollow, crystal-lined geodes large enough that people can stand inside. It is found all over the world and comes in at a seven on the Mohs scale of hardness.
The Calming Stone
Saint Valentine was thought to have worn an amethyst ring engraved with the image of Cupid, and thus it is considered to be the stone for faithful lovers, making it the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day. It is rumored to diffuse angry temperaments and create the proper headspace in times where debate or negotiation are necessary. It is thought to also help reduce the tendency for over indulgence in spending, gambling, or unwise investments. Overall it is a stone associated with intellectual reasoning. Strange for the Valentine’s Day birthstone! But perhaps, the soothing energy of Amethyst can help us all temper our infatuations and separate what is genuine from what is merely passing.