Thought to be stained by tears of wine from the Greek god of intoxication Dionysus, Amethyst is the violet variety of quartz and the birthstone for February. While colorless quartz is found in nearly every corner of the earth, the amethyst variety is considerably rarer. It has long been thought to have healing powers, and gives its wearers coolheadedness and clarity.
Amethyst can be found in a variety of hues, from a light pinkish violet to deep purples. The most sought-after variety, called Deep Siberian, is a dark purple and was used in several prominent royal collections, including Catherine the Great and Egyptian rulers. Amethyst was also used by the High Priests of early Judaism, and is highly popular in ornaments of the Catholic clergy to help reduce the unintended effects of communion.
Because of its mythological connotations, Amethyst’s drunkenness-protection abilities made it a popular material for goblets and chalices – it literally translates to “not intoxicated.” Its relative hardness made it an ideal medium for long-lasting, durable pieces. Today, extensive deposits found in Brazil have brought down the value of amethyst, which used to be included in the cardinal (most valued) gemstones.