Amethysts, History


Amethyst is popularly regarded as a gemstone. Several names have been attributed to it due to its characteristics and variety in colors. The pinkish lavender shade is called ‘Rose de France.’ It is the least sought after variety compared to the intense violet shade called ‘Siberian’ which is the most-sought after shade of all. The latter shade is usually found not just in Siberia but also in the African region of Zambia and Uruguay. Ametrine on the other hand, is a gem of Bolivia which exhibits alternating bands of citrine orange and purple. Oriental amethyst is also the name of the purple corundum as well as fine samples of amethystine quartz which does not necessarily come from the Eastern regions of the globe.

Amethyst in History and its Symbolisms

Amethyst is generally known as the birthstone of February celebrators which indirectly links it to the horoscope calendar of Pisces, Aries, Sagittarius and Aquarius. High ranking officials of the Roman Catholic sect wear rings with amethyst stones as symbolism of their offices.

From the Greek word amethystos, it literally means not drunken. This name was an offshoot of its use in ancient times as an antidote for drunkenness. This also gave rise to the practice then of carving wine goblets from amethyst. According to Greek mythology, a maiden by the name of Amethystos was being pursued by the drunken Dionysus. Amethystos prayed to the gods for protection against Dionysus’ unwanted affection. Artemis, the goddess heard her prayer so she transformed the maiden into a white stone. When Dionysus realized what happened to her, he poured wine over the stone as an act of offering. This act transformed the white stone to a crystal purple.

Another mythical story about the origin of amethyst involved the god Dionysus. He was angered by an insult coming from a mere mortal. He swore that the next mortal he will come across will die through the fierce tigers he has created to carry out his revenge. An unsuspecting maiden named Amethyst happened to be on her way to make an offering to the goddess Diana. Knowing what was bound to the happen to the poor mortal, the goddess changed Amethyst to a crystalline quartz to prevent her from being ravaged by the brutal tigers. The blinded Dionysus wept after knowing what happened to the mortal and the tears trickled to the crystals turning it to a purple color.

Author: Dr. Mark Clayson

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