When it comes to the history of the Amethyst gemstone, you may be surprised to know that it has a long history of previously having been one of the most precious of Opal gemstones… enough to have been treasured by the likes of ancient Egyptians, ancient Greeks, and well as royalty of various cultures throughout history. Until recently the Amethyst was a gemstone of great worth, but since then there has been an explosion of available sources of Amethyst Gemstone which has resulted in a vast drop in value.
During historic times, the color purple came to represent royalty, simply due to the scarcity of natural purple dyes which were only available to the rich and wealthy. Riding on this color representation, as well as the scarcity of available gemstone, the Amethyst became a much favoured gemstone of historic royalty. Amethyst jewelry was adorned by Egyptian Royalty, Catherine the Great of Russia, as well as featuring in the Crown Jewels of Britain.
In Greek Mythology, there is a story explaining the creation of this alluring purple color of the Amethyst Gemstone. Initially as the story goes, Dionysus, the Greek God of “grape harvest and wine” was very angry, intoxicated, and ready to reap havoc on an unsuspected mortal human being. In his aghast, Dionysus unleashed his exotic beasts at Amethyst who was a youthful maiden simply on her way to pay homage to Diana, the Greek Goddess. As Amethyst cried out for help, Diana herself appeared and quickly turned the young girl into a shimmering quartz statue to protect her. Dionysus soon understood the wrong-doing that he had done and cried tears of wine which ended up staining the quartz statue and turning it into a beautiful, purple Amethyst gemstone.
This story lead to the belief that Amethyst gemstones have the ability to protect the wearer from intoxication, as the demise of maiden Amethyst managed to bring the God of Wine to a state of vulnerability. In fact the Greek word for sober is “amethustos”, which is where the name “Amethyst” is derived from. Amethysts have since been used to make Amethyst goblets which soldiers used to drink from in order to stop intoxication.
Due to the story of “Amethyst the Virgin” who ended up becoming the shinning purple gemstone that we know of today, Amethyst jewelry came to signify purity and denote celibacy and faithfulness. This led to the Amethyst holding great representation by Christianity and the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, where Amethyst rings and crosses would be worn by High Priests and Catholic Bishops, as well as by the likes of Saint Valentine who adorned an antique Amethyst ring with the engraving of Cupid.