In ancient Greece, Dionysus was the god of wine and winemaking, amongst other things. He loved to bestow his gifts of wine and drunkenness to any mortal, but one day, someone insulted Dionysus. He reacted by getting angry and decided to punish any mortal who would not accept his gifts. A young woman named Amethyst was on her way to honor the goddess Diana and came upon Dionysus. When she refused his wine, he became very angry (again!) and commanded two tigers to devour Amethyst. In the nick of time, Diana saw what was happening and was moved by Amethyst’s devotion, so she mercifully turned her into a crystal statue. Dionysus was shocked back into his right mind and realized what a terrible thing he had done. He wept bitter tears into his wine glass which he then poured onto the crystal statue of Amethyst turning it deep purple. Since then, Amethyst has been used in protection against drunkenness. Amethystos methysko methyo is an ancient Koine Greek phrase that means “not intoxicated.”
Purple is a color that has long been associated with royalty and nobility, it represents wealth extravagance, devotion, and wisdom. Cleopatra, Catherine the Great, and Empress Josephine of France all wore Amethyst. Cleopatra even swore that her Amethyst ring gave her abilities to entice Marc Anthony and Julius Caesar. St. Edward’s Crown is part of the coronation regalia of Britain and includes 7 Amethyst stones. Anglican Bishops wear episcopal rings set with Amethysts to represent the apostle’s sobriety at Pentecost.
Prior to the 19th century, Amethyst was just as expensive as Ruby and Emerald! Russia was the main source of Amethyst, but large deposits of the gemstone, were found in Brazil which brought down the price. While Amethyst became more widely available, it still is a treasured gemstone.
In our modern culture, we may not think of Amethyst in terms of prohibiting drunkenness or representing nobility, but the rich purple that rarely has eye visible inclusions continues to bewitch! Amethyst can be a deep, cool purple or a reddish purple that is sometimes called Raspberry Amethyst. High quality Amethyst is in demand of jewelry designers and gemstone cutters. Amethyst is also the birthstone for February which brings new people discovering its beauty!
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