This year’s Pantone color of the year, ultraviolet amethyst, is an homage to the February birthstone. Amethyst is a gemstone worth geeking out over–here are some fascinating facts:
Amethyst Geology: Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz, in the same family as citrine, prasiolite and rose quartz. It gets its deep purple hue from trace amounts of iron in the crystallized material. Most of the amethyst mined today is from South America and Africa, and even some deposits in the United States.
History of Amethyst: Due to its purple color, Greeks often associated amethysts with the wine god, Bacchus. In fact, its name is derived from the Greek word, amethystos, meaning “not drunk” and was believed to protect the wearer from drunkenness (note to self: wear Amethyst on girl’s night out). Once revered as the “jewel of the gods,” bishops, still today, wear amethyst rings since it symbolizes devotion. Adorning the richest and most powerful monarchs and rulers in history as purple was the color of royalty, this ever-popular gemstone was once as valuable and expensive as the big three – emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. This only changed when a large deposit was discovered in Brazil which made the gemstone more widely available.
How to care for Amethyst: Amethyst is a sturdy gemstone and strong enough for daily wear (amethyst scores a 7 on the Moh’s hardness scale) but we suggest taking off your amethyst rings before doing chores as the stone can be damaged by some acids and alkaline solutions found in most household cleaners. Be mindful the next time you’re working on your tan as well since Amethysts can fade when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
If you do get some SPF or other lotions or gunk on your Amethyst jewelry, don’t brush it with toothpaste and a toothbrush–that’s much too abrasive. Instead, soak your jewelry in warm water with a drop of mild soap, rinse it thoroughly under warm water again and then give your pieces a good buff with the jewelry cleaning cloth that came with your Swoonery purchase.
St. Valentine, the patron saint of romantic love, wore a carved amethyst ring with the image of cupid—so even if amethyst isn’t your birthstone, don’t forget to add some amethyst jewelry to your wish list this month.