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Home / Amethyst: Myths, Legends & History

Amethyst: Myths, Legends & History

Since the dawn of time, Amethyst has been associated with various myths and legends, but also with many cultures and religions. With a rich and exciting past, let us tell you the story of a stone appreciated and even adulated (notably by the Queen of England!)

The origin of this name

First of all, Amethyst is a variety of quartz whose hue varies from pale mauve to violet, through a slightly deep parma. Its singular color comes from the iron traces it contains. Its name comes from the Greek “amethustos” (which preserves from drunkenness).

Indeed, according to a legend from Greek mythology, this stone had the reputation of containing drunkenness. Dionysus(Bacchus in the Romans), God of wine, claimed a nymph named Amethystos who wished to remain chaste. Therefore, she begged Artemis, the Goddess of hunting and chastity, to help her. The latter listened to her by transforming her into white rock in order to free her from the assaults of Dionysus. This one, humiliated, poured then wine on the rock tinting the crystals of purple.

Bacchus, God of wine
Bacchus, God of wine

Amethyst was already highly prized in ancient times. In a completely different register than that of jewelry, this gemstone was very much appreciated by the Greeks and Romans for their tableware (we warned you, we are far from the antique gold jewelry offered at Noir Carat!). They drank wine in amethyst cups and glasses, sometimes decorated with the silhouette of Bacchus, to protect themselves and avoid getting drunk.

Amethyst cup
Amethyst cup, 17th century

In addition to relieving drunkenness, Amethyst was also used for decorative purposes and sublimated all kinds of objects. The Egyptians were the pioneers in this field.

Where to find Amethyst ?

For the more adventurous among you who would like to conquer this fabulous purple stone, the main deposits are located in Brazil, Madagascar, Russia and Uruguay. The city of Ametista do Sul is the main producer in Brazil. Amethyst is also a cousin of citrine, which is found in the same deposits. There are even ametrines, a mixture of both. It has very diverse colors, ranging from yellows to deeper purples.

Amethyst in the Christians

For Christians, this purple gem has a very special meaning, it would be a symbol of purity and humility. Joseph would have offered a ring set with an Amethyst to Mary. Similarly, the Vatican bishops wear a ring adorned with this stone to show their dedication to the Church.

The history of Amethyst is also closely linked to love. Valentine of Terni, designated patron saint of lovers, wore an amethyst around his neck. Celebrated on February 14 (Valentine’s Day), it makes its stone one of the symbols of love.

It is not without reason that this gem is the birthstone of children born in February!

The Amethyst for Leonardo da Vinci

Heading for the Italian Renaissance! At that time, Leonardo da Vinci wrote in his notebooks that Amethyst had the power to dispel negative thoughts, he himself used this stone to sharpen his intelligence.

Amethyst has the power to dispel evil thoughts and sharpen the intellect.

Quote from Leonardo da Vinci on the powers of Amethyst.
Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci
Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, by Lattanzio Querena (1768-1853)

The Crown of England

Finally, very present throughout history, Amethyst adorns one of the most beautiful and famous jewels in the world, the royal crown of England. A crown made of solid gold and decorated with 444 precious stones!

The Royal Crown of England

Noir Carat gems

Jewelers particularly appreciate Amethyst for all the various creative possibilities it offers. At Noir Carat, we have been fortunate to find a varied selection of antique Amethysts. Cut in various forms: faceted, square, oval. And mounted on different jewelry: rings, earrings or pendants.

Selection of Vintage amethyst jewelry
Selection of antique jewelry set with Amethysts. Unique pieces found by Noir Carat.

NB: Amethyst jewelry would be even more divine to look at at sunrise and sunset, when the light is soft and warm. Having done the test, we can guarantee you that it is the case!

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