February - Amethyst

Amethyst, the birthstone for February, was believed by ancient Greeks and Romans to ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, the god of wine and intoxication.  In fact, the word 'Amethyst' comes from the Greek word" amethystos" , meaning sober.  The legend of the origin of amethyst comes from a Greek myth.  Bacchus, the god of wine was angered one day by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal that would cross his path.  In order to perform this, he created fierce tigers.  Then along came the unsuspecting Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana.  Diana turned Amethyst into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws of the tigers.  Bacchus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue.  The god's tears stained the quartz purple creating the gemstone as we know it today. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst was able to dissipate evil thoughts.  Amethyst has been used as a dream stone and to help insomnia.  When placed under one's pillow it has been thought to bring about pleasant dreams and restful sleep.  It has also been said to relieve headaches when rubbed across the forehead.  Amethyst has been said to keep the wearer clear-headed, quick witted and sincere. Amethyst occurs naturally as crystal within rocks.  Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that can be found in Brazil, Canada, Australia, India, Madagascar, Namibia, Russia, Sri Lanka; and in the United States. February's purple birthstone has been found amongst the possessions of royalty throughout the ages.  The intense violet hue of amethyst appealed to early monarchs perhaps because they often wore this color.  Purple dye was scarce and expensive at the time, so it was reserved for the garments of kings and queens.  Amethyst has been found in ruins dating as far back as the ninth century, adorning crowns, scepters, jewelry and breastplates worn into battle.   Because amethyst was thought to encourage celibacy and symbolize piety, it was very important in the ornamentation of Catholic churches in the Middle Ages.  Amethyst was in particular, considered to be the stone of bishops and some still wear amethyst rings today.  A large amethyst is among the closely guarded gemstones in the British Crown Jewels. The gift of amethyst is symbolic of protection and the ability to overcome difficulty.  It is said to strengthen the bond in a love relationship, so it is an ideal anniversary or engagement gem.  Amethyst is also commonly given as a gift to those who are born in February.  Mother's and children's bracelets and birthstone necklaces and earrings are the most current and trendy way to present a gemstone that has lasting meaning.  These pieces often contain high quality Swarovski crystals to represent the birthstone color.

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