The purple amethyst is beautiful, ánd the birthstone of February. Besides that -according to several myths and legends- this purple beautiful gemstone is a great way to prevent getting drunk. And those great stories tell us about it and the AA? Let me explain this!
What is in the name ‘amethystos’?
The name ‘amethystos’ means in the old Greek language ‘not drunken’ or ‘not intoxicated’. And drink your favorite alcohol drink from a goblet made from this purple gemstone is in the old-time a great way not to get drunk. Even when you pour the alcohol in abundantly. People consider the purple gem to be a perfect and strong antidote against alcohol and drunkenness.
Secretly I think that it is not a coincidence that the amethyst is the birthstone of February, the time of celebration Carnaval!
The next question is of course whether this is true or only a great story. Or a fine excuse to get drunk, use a glass made of this gemstone, and blame the gemstone for it.
How the purple gem becomes an antidote?
A French poet, called Remy Belleau (1528-1577) writes the poem ‘L’Amethyste, ou Les amours de Bacchus et d’Amethyste’. In this poem, the Greek god Bacchus chases a girl called Amethyste. Bacchus is – by the way- the god of wine and grapes and the god of intoxication.
Amethyste detests his affections and refuses them. But Bacchus is not a member of the ‘Me-Too’ movement and doesn’t take NO for an answer. She has no help around so she prays to the goddess Diana (goddess of the chaste). She wants Diana to help her to remain chaste and to get rid of Bacchus.
I really don’t know why Diana does not sue Bacchus for his behavior, but she decides to transform Amethyste into a pure white stone. Bacchus spoils his good wine over the white stone as an offering and the white stone turns into purple: the amethyst.
The Romans have their own version
The Romans have their challenges with wine too and there is a story about Dionysus. That is the god of the grape harvest and of the wine and the winemaking. Dionysus is a god with long toes. He is insulted by a mortal, for crying out loud. And he looks for revenge.
He makes a promise to himself that the first mortal he meets, he deals with by force. But he needs some help doing that, so he creates strong tigers to help him out. And the first mortal he comes across is a young innocent girl, Amethystos, who is on her way to the temple of Artemis.
Artemis realizes that Amethystos is in danger and transforms her into a statue of pure white crystalline quartz. Looking at what happens Dionysos feels remorse and he cries ‘tears of wine’ over the statue. And those tears of wine colors the quartz purple’: the amethyst.
In other cultures
While working in Tibet I saw some amethyst prayer beads. The Tibetans consider this gemstone some kind of divine and the gemstone is sacred to Buddha.
In the Middle Ages, this purple gem was not a simple quartz, worn by ordinary people. No, it was a symbol of royalty and the crowns and regalia were decorated with it. That idea came from the Old World, where it was considered a Cardinal Gem.
That means that the amethyst was as valuable and appreciated as the diamond, the emerald, the ruby, and the sapphire. The last four gemstones are valued nowadays as precious stones. But since they found very large amethyst quartz deposits in Brazil the purple gemstone fell out of this precious gemstone list.
In China, this purple gem is used as a very powerful tool to get rid of all the negative energy in your house (Feng Shui) and in your life. Wearing these gemstones should drive away all the bad things in your life.
What this quartz has to do with the AA?
It may be clear that the girl Amethyste or Amethystos is the victim of a drunken god, who can not keep his hands to himself. And it is a pity for her that the only way to help her out is transforming her into a stone, a gemstone though. Of course, it is clear that she doesn’t want to have anything to do with alcohol and certainly not with wine. She could be a great symbol of the AA movement (or MeToo). Why don’t they think about that themselves?
About the gemstone
The amethyst is quartz and has a purple to violet color. You mine it in a lot of places and easy to come by. It has a base and the crystal peeks ‘grow’ on top of it. And the peeks of the crystals are the deepest purple and coming down the color gets weaker.
There are varieties, that are light yellow, red-brown, and even light green. Of course, they are not natural but people put the purple one in a fire of 470-750 grades, and then the purple copy turns into different colors.
The best quality is found in Brazil, Siberia, Sri Lanka, and Uruguay, but also in the Far East. If you are looking for the absolute best ones you search for the ‘Deep Siberian’ amethyst. It has about 75-80% purple and 15-20% blue. And sometimes a little bit of red, but that depends on the light source.
Another highly appreciated variety is the ‘Rose de France’ quality. The shade of purple is lighter and comes from the lavender and lilac hues. This variety got very popular due to the marketing.
handle with care
Although this purple beauty is a rather hard gemstone it is always good advice to be careful with your jewelry, especially with gemstones. The amethyst is sensitive to strong heat and it is possible that due to that strong heat the amethyst loses or changes its color.
Polish the gemstone gently with a soft cloth and if you want it extra cleaned ask the jeweler to do that with extra care in an ultrasonic device or steamer.
The price of this gemstone depends on the deepness of the color purple. And the deeper the color, the more expensive they get.
When you want to see a really really great one you have to go to the British Museum in London, where they have a polished one of 343 carats. Or to the Smithsonian Institution in Washinton DC, where you can see a copy of 1362 carats. That is huge and not suited for a ring or another piece of jewelry.
When you are interested in jewelry and in gemstones? I have a free e-book about birthstones and the amethyst is in there, among a lot of other gemstones. Just let me know where to send it too and I personally take care that you get it.
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