Amethyst is the most highly valued stone in the quartz group. It comes in varying shades of purple, lilac or mauve, the most desirable being a deep purple with a hint of red violet.
Found in geodes in alluvial deposits the most important sources today are in the Brazilian and Uruguayan border states where the worlds most vibrantly coloured amethyst is found. Other important deposits are in the Russian Ural mountains, Sri Lanka and India, Madagascar, Namibia and Zambia.
The gorgeous colour of amethyst has long been valued. It has been found in Mesopotamian jewellery from 1800BC. It was also highly valued by the ancient Egyptians who used it in both its faceted and cabochon forms. In Tibet the stone is sacred to the Buddha and is often used to make rosaries. In India meditation on it was said to lead to a mystical union with the universal consciousness. In recent and modern history it has been favoured both by the clergy and royalty as purple has always been considered a regal hue. It has been said that amethyst dissipates evil and quickens the intelligence. It used to be thought that it prevented drunkenness in the wearer. Indeed the name comes from the Greek, amethustos, which literally means, “not drunk”. Amethyst is the birthstone for February.