February is my birth month and it’s a fact of my life that I have never fully loved. In my opinion, the only redeeming trait of the month is that it’s short: 28 days of cold, wet, dark weather with no hope of spring at the end. At least March improves. February just stays gross (except this year; 70 degree weather during this month just creeps me out). On top of that, there’s the birthstone issue…
Amethysts are traditionally a deep, royal purple. The finest amethyst displays a saturated violet color with reddish tints and nice fire. While beautiful, this color just doesn’t work for me and never has. My manager, Ana, thinks I’m crazy for this prejudice but she can pull of deep, saturated hues so much better than I can.
Fun little fact: the word “amethyst” translates in Greek to “not drunken.” Of course, there is a story here. According to Greek mythology, Bacchus, the Greek god of revelry, was in a drunkenly foul mood and (as one does) vowed to send a herd of tigers upon the next unsuspecting mortal who crossed his path. An unsuspecting young girl named Amethyst wandered along but just before the tigers descended, she was turned into a crystal by the goddess Diana who took pity upon her unlucky fate (ladies saving ladies, though, sidebar Diana: a crystal?? What gives??).
Bacchus, feeling awfully contrite over his dumb mood, poured a glass of wine over the crystal thereby turning it a deep shade of purple. He imbued the purple gem with sobering properties in the hopes that others wouldn’t succumb to the same drunken moods as he, and named the gem “amethyst” in “honor” of the unsuspecting mortal girl he had so arbitrarily cursed. Thus, amethysts were worn often with the intent of protecting oneself against the inebriating effects of alcohol. (As you can imagine, I have problems with this story on so many levels which certainly doesn’t help my feelings towards amethysts.)
Despite my prejudices, I had to give amethysts a chance considering that this month is dedicated to them. So, I put on my jeweler’s hat and did some research into how I could make these gems work for me. As it turns out, amethysts actually come in a variety of shades ranging from light lavender to lusciously rich violet, which helps. Even better: have you seen green amethysts? Featuring a minty/pastel green, these lovely gems are much better suited for my color palette. Green amethysts, known in the trade as “prasiolite,” are a great option for a more subtle, neutral tone that goes with just about everything.
Amethysts are actually a great gem for daily wear jewelry for a number of reasons. One, as another color variation of quartz, they are a relatively durable and less expensive option for colored gemstones. If you remember our citrine discussion, quartz is quite resistant to scratching and therefore a good option for rings or bracelets. And no, Bacchus’ spilled wine isn’t want makes quartz purple. It’s iron and aluminum entering the quartz mineral composition, combined with heat, which renders the gemstone violet. Because of the way quartz is formed, it is relatively common to find very large, unincluded pieces of the mineral. As a result you can find quite large cuts of amethysts that are beautifully clean without paying through the nose for a big look.
If you’re into the metaphysical, amethysts offer a number of helpful attributes when worn or placed in a room. They promote confident, calm energy — useful for open communication — so they’re a great accent to any family room or office environment. It’s the Zodiac stone for Pisces and linked to the element of the Wind, which is believed to activate the mind and assist in clairvoyance and intuition. Amethysts are therefore considered an ideal meditation aid when you are seeking to discover the reason for certain behaviors you or others may exhibit.
So, I’ll give amethysts a chance. I even designed our newest addition to our Open Circle Collection to feature a pair of lovely green amethysts and I’m totally digging the result. These earrings are handmade in our workshop and feature a convertible green amethyst accent so you can wear them as simple hoops or as a more stylish accent. Contact me to reserve these, or to customize your own pair. I’ll even make them in purple amethyst. 😉
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.