Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February Birthstone

Amethyst

February Birthstone




The colour of Amethyst is as unique as it is seductive, though in fact this gemstone of all gemstones is said to protect its wearer against seduction. The amethyst is extravagance in violet. For many thousands of years, the most striking representative of the quartz family has been a jewel coveted by princes both ecclesiastical and secular. The Russian Empress Catherine the Great sent thousands of miners into the Urals to look for it. In popular belief, the amethyst offers protection against drunkenness - for the Greek words 'amethystos' mean 'not intoxicated' in translation. A more apt stone for the month of February, particularly if there is to be plenty going on in the way of carnival celebrations, could thus hardly be wished for.

Sultana

A large number of further miraculous powers are attributed to the amethyst in all sorts of cultures. It was said to protect crops against tempests and locusts, bring good fortune in war and in the hunt, and inspire the intellect. A little study of the works of Pliny will reveal that this gemstone, if worn round the neck on a cord made from dog's hair, affords protection against snakebite. Later, Hieronymus even reported that eagles placed an amethyst in their nest in order to protect their young from the selfsame danger. Apart from these powers, gemstone therapists say that the amethyst has a sobering and cleansing effect. Amethyst has also been said to quell excessive stomach acid and, according to Hildegard von Bingen, served to combat insect bites and beautify the skin. But the amethyst not only had a firm niche in medicine; it was also esteemed as a stone of friendship.

Kelly wearing Catherine The Great
Hand Embroidered Soutache Pendant

One thing that has been known for a long time is that the amethyst changes its colour on being heated. Smoky stones are transformed at temperatures of as little as 250 degrees to a shining yellow to brownish-red, whilst clear ones, i.e. those with a high degree of transparency, become yellow or colourless at 400 degrees. Now and then Nature gives us a surprise by having created bicoloured stones, like the ones recently found in Bolivia in the form of causticised crystal nuggets. This variety is known as ametrine, for in its formation certain energy states of iron introduce violet areas to the yellow citrine. 

Baroque Bracelet

Some amethysts pale almost to colourless in daylight. The reason for this has not yet been discovered, but it is possible to re-colour them by means of radium radiation. The fact that these stones can lose their colour makes it obvious that amethyst jewellery should not be worn while sunbathing, in a solarium or in a discotheque with black light. Sudden changes of temperature can also be harmful to the stone.



The amethyst bracelet of Queen Charlotte of England, which was so famous at the beginning of the 18th century, was valued at about 2000 pounds sterling at that time.



In ancient times, amethyst was already being engraved and cut into sculptured forms, witness the bust of Trajan which Napoleon captured in Berlin. Amethyst quartz, banded with whitish layers, is particularly good to work with, though it is only ever either translucent or opaque or somewhere in between. In earlier times, people liked to drink wine from amethyst cups, which brings us back to the stone's protective function against alcoholism. According to the ancient Greek saga, Diana turned a nymph whom Bacchus loved into an amethyst; hence the term Bacchus stone. Anyone wishing to protect a drunkard from delirium mixed some pulverised amethyst into the person's drink.
Excerpt from the International Colored Stones Association

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