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February Birthstone Amethyst

Amethyst CrystalFebruary's birthstone is the amethyst. It's a lovely purple-colored gem. The amethyst is also a proper gift for couples celebrating their 4th, 6th or 17th year of wedded bliss. It comes from the Greek word, amethystos, which means against drunkenness. The gem was believed to prevent inebriation if placed inside one's wine glass.

A Greek myth tells the origin of the amethyst. Bacchus (aka Dionysius), the God of Wine, was angry with mankind. He was insulted by a mere mortal and could not abide by that. So, to get his revenge, he vowed that the next human to cross his path would be eaten by tigers.

Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden who was on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana, happened upon Bacchus' path. Diana turned the lovely girl into a statue of crystallized quartz so that she would not become the tigers' prey. When Bacchus saw the statue, he wept wine tears and repented. His tears stained the statue purple.

Amethyst RingAmethysts run the gamut of purple from light lilac to a deep, rich, almost wine-red purple. The rich, dark purples have been a favorite of royalty, stemming back to the Minoans of the 2nd century B.C.E. During the 15th century, amethysts were worn by the French royal family on ceremonial occasions.

Amethysts are most often found in South America and Africa. They have also been mined in Russia, Sri Lanka, Mexico and Arizona (in the United States). These lovely gems have been placed in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs and used as medieval medications to sharpen the mind and protect the wearer from sorcery. In Arabia, it was believed to relieve people from symptoms of gout and from bad dreams.

One of the largest amethysts in the world is housed in the National History Museum in London and is 343 carats!

Birthstones: January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December

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