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Amethyst, a Birthstone for Business & Pleasure

"Amethytsos" means "not drunk" in ancient Greek. Legend states that the amethyst has properties to keep you clearheaded in battle and quick witted in business affairs. No wonder we all love amethysts.

Amethystos" means "not drunk" in ancient Grek. Because of its wine-like color, early Greek legends associated amethyst with Bacchus, the god of wine. It was believed that wearing amethyst, a quartz, prevented drunkenness. Other legends reflected beliefs that amethysts kept their wearer clear-headed and quick-witted in battle and in business affairs. Fine amethysts have been set in religious jewelry and crown jewels for ages. It's no wonder that fine amethyst adorns the fingers of bishops as well as the coronation regalia of British royalty. 


Amethyst is the purple variety of the mineral quartz. It's the gem most commonly associated with the color purple, even though there are other purple gems such as sapphire and tanzanite. The purple can be cool and bluish, or a reddish purple that's sometimes referred to as "raspberry". Amethyst also commonly shows what is called color zoning, which usually consists of angular zones of darker to a lighter color. 


Much of the faceted amethyst in the market is "eye clean", meaning it lacks eye-visible inclusions. Any visibly included material is usually cut into cabochons. Gem professionals overlook minor inclusions when the gem is richly colored and of otherwise high quality. Visible inclusions in light-colored gems reduce their value greatly. 


Russia was the major amethyst source until the 19th century when a huge amethyst deposit was found in Brazil. The once scarce purple gem was suddenly in abundance. Today, the two major sources of amethyst are in Africa and South America. African mines provide most of the fine color amethyst on the market today. 


Heat treatment is the most common technique for improving the color of natural amethyst. It can lighten the color of very dark amethyst but it cannot darken the color of pale amethyst. 


Amethyst can be safely cleaned with warm, soapy water. Ultrasonic cleaners are usually safe except in the rare instances where a stone is dyed or treated by fracture filling. Steam cleaning is not recommended, and amethyst should not be subjected to heat.