GemSelect Newsletter - February Birthstone: Amethyst
Probably the best-known purple gemstone is the violet quartz gem type known as amethyst. Its name comes from a Greek myth in which Dionysius, the god of intoxication was angered by an insult from a human, and swore to take revenge on the next human he saw. Thus, Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden was attacked by Dionysius's fierce tigers on the way to pay tribute to Diana. Luckily for Amethyst, Diana turned her into a quartz statue to protect her from Dionysius, who wept tears of wine in sorrow when he realized what he had done. The clear quartz statue of Amethyst was stained purple by Dionysius's tears. The real reason for the purple color of amethyst is traces of iron and aluminum; quartz without trace impurities is clear and white.
In ancient Greek, the word, "amethystos" means "not intoxicated", and since ancient times, amethyst was carved into wine goblets and worn in rings in the belief that it would prevent drunkenness. This may have come from an alternative version of the Greek myth of amethystos, which goes that Amethyst was avoiding Dionysius's lusty advances and prayed to Artemis to keep her chastity. According to this story, Amethyst was turned into a statue of pure crystal by Artemis and then Dionysius poured his wine over her statue in tribute to her purity. Perhaps this legend led to amethyst's associations with sobriety, the church, Christ, chastity, divinity and spirituality. Amethyst has often featured in rings worn by Roman Catholic bishops and was known as "the stone of bishops".
Amethyst has also been long-associated with royalty and was even used during ancient Egyptian times, when amethyst was mined in Southern Egypt and carved into beads worn by pharaohs. During an excavation of the tomb of Djer, bracelets of gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise and amethyst were found and a necklace of amethyst and carnelian beads was found at the Dendara grave from the reign of Senwosret I. One of the amethyst beads had been carved in the form of a scarab beetle (an amulet that symbolizes rebirth) and two others were inscribed with the names of the king. Amethysts were mined from Southern Egypt.
The Phoenicians, ancient Romans and Elizabethans reserved the color purple for elite and royal robes because it was a costly dye to produce, so purple and amethyst continued to have regal connotations up until modern times. Some of the most beautiful royal amethyst jewelry includes the Norwegian Amethyst Parure, the Nassau Amethysts, Queen Josephine's amethyst tiara and the Duchess of Windsor's amethyst and turquoise Cartier bib necklace.
As well as being regal and religious, amethyst has other lore associated with it, such as being able to prevent evil thoughts, calm the mind, strengthen immunity, help insomnia, promote good dreams, provide balance, aid mental focus, lift the spirit, encourage wise judgement, release from addiction, protect against maliciousness, aid creativity and more.
Whether or not amethyst can actually deliver all of these wonderful things, it is a good-looking natural jewelry gemstone that will continue to be worn and admired by all. For those who were born in February, amethyst is the official birthstone. Pisceans also wear amethyst as their zodiac stone and it is given in celebration of the 6th wedding anniversary. Amethyst is also the gemstone for Wednesday.
Since the start of the new year, we've added many new gemstone types, as well as several specific varieties or colors that are rare to find in certain gemstone types, including London blue topaz, scolecite, black opal, spectrolite, sugilite, labradorite, rhodochrosite, jasper, agate and more. Because of the wide variety of new gemstone arrivals this month, it was really difficult deciding on which gems to feature this month -- so, here goes:
Cat's eye moonstone is the best known gemstone variety of orthoclase feldspar. The combination of chatoyancy with an attractive, distinctive cat's eye is exceptionally rare to find in a single stone. Top-quality specimens can often exhibit a 'three-dimensional' depth of color due to moonstone's remarkable adularescent effect. Chatoyancy is a rare phenomenon found only in a handful of gem types. In addition to cat's eyes, we also have star moonstone gems too! These exhibit asterism that often resembles a cross, which makes them very popular for religious reasons.
Why are natural gemstones rarely available drilled? It you've ever searched for quality gemstone beads, rondelles and briolettes, you've likely found that they're quite hard to find. The reason it's hard to source pre-drilled gemstone is simply because gems are bought and sold by weight, so by drilling holes into them, it's almost like throwing money down the drain. This is why most gems are either faceted or cut en cabochon. Facet-cut gems and cabochons also tend to attract higher prices, even smaller stones. However, due to the extreme popularity and high demand for beads and drilled gemstones for jewelry, we scoured the markets to find some more drilled gems to add to our collection. Some of the new beads, rondelles and briolettes we've added, include black opal, labradorite, rutile quartz, opal, emerald, sapphire and jadeite. Browse our selection now, because these are moving almost as quickly as we can get them online!
Sunstone is another popular member of the feldspar gemstone group. Not only have we been lucky enough to source faceted sunstones and star sunstones, we've now been fortunate enough to add some beautiful sunstone cabochons to our ever-growing stock of over 60,000 gems! Sunstone is famed for its unique glitter caused by platelets of hematite or goethite inclusions. When cut and polished, sunstone exhibits a vitreous luster, often described as sparkling. Sunstone has been very hard to source for many years, so we consider ourselves very lucky to be able to offer these in our stock. Browse our stock now to ensure you get the best pick of the lot!
The Markle effect has begun! We have all noticed how member of royal families have sparked jewelry trends, from Lady Diana's famous blue sapphire halo ring to Kate Middleton's drop earrings, and now Prince Harry's bride-to-be, Meghan Markle's jewelry choices are drawing attention. Ms. Markle's oval yellow gold and opal stud earrings are proving popular and have triggered a trend.
While most eyes are on Meghan Markle, another royal engagement has been announced, with a fabulous padparadscha sapphire ring. Princess Eugenie of York's has shown off a stunning yellow gold padparadscha sapphire ring with a diamond halo from Jack Brooksbank, former manager of Mahiki nightclub. The couple met seven years ago and the surprise proposal took place in Nicaragua. The engagement ring has been compared to the Princess Diana sapphire engagement ring and also Eugenie's mother, the Duchess of York's ruby halo engagement ring.
Sarine Technologies Ltd., a leading developer of gemstone technology, has opened a lab in Israel offering digital gemstone reports, courtesy of advanced technology. The Sarine Technology (Gemmological) Lab offers diamond grading and colored gemstone reports. A second Sarine lab is set to open in India in May.
The Golden Globes 2018 saw a sea of black, but some of the jewels provided a splash of color on the red carpet. Many of the stars chose emerald jewelry, including Laurie Metcalf, Isabelle Huppert, Penelope Cruz and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Issa Rae wore a plunging Lorraine Schwartz emerald and diamond tasseled necklace. Pauletta Washington chose emerald dangle earrings and an emerald ring, and a fabulously large pair of emerald pendant earrings were shown off by Zoe Kravitz.
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- First Published: February-02-2018
- Last Updated: February-16-2018
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