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All About Amethyst

Advice to Help You Shop for Amethyst Jewelry


Amethyst is a lilac to purple variety of quartz, its color formed from iron impurities within the stones. Royal families have identified with the deep purple gemstone for centuries, and many who love amethyst believe it possesses mystical and healing properties.

Amethyst's color can be altered with heat treatments -- the gem can be transformed into darker hues and even turned yellow to resemble citrine, another member of the quartz family. Another gemstone, called ametrine is a naturally occurring mixture of amethyst and citrine, and displays the colors of both. So far, the majority of ametrine used in jewelry has been found in Bolivia.

Most of today's amethyst jewelry is made with either heat-treated gemstones or amethyst that's been grown in a laboratory, rather than found in nature.

Like other varieties of quartz, amethyst is rated at 7 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness.

Amethyst is the February birthstone (Shop for Birthstone Jewelry).

What Is the Cursed Amethyst?

The Cursed Amethyst
Photo by Cate Gillon / Getty Images
London's Natural History Museum is the home of the Cursed Amethyst, sometimes called the Blasted Amethyst. The large amethyst was stolen from a temple in India in the mid 1800s, and taken to England. It is the central stone in the photo to the left -- click for a larger image.

Legend says that the cavalry officer who removed the gem from India become ill and lost all of his money shortly after returning to England. His son inherited the amethyst and shortly afterwards his life changed for the worse, too. The next owner was Edward Heron-Allen, whose luck also took a downward turn after taking possession of the amethyst.

Heron-Allen decided the amethyst was cursed, and he locked it in a bank vault, out of anyone's reach, leaving instructions that the package holding the stone not be opened until 3 years after his death. In 1943, Heron-Allen's daughter donated the stone to the Natural History Museum, along with a note written by her father that said 'this stone is trebly accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonour of everyone who has ever owned it.'

The Cursed Amethyst remains in the museum's Vault, a special display area that houses a collection of unique gems, crystals and meteorites, including meteorites from Mars. Another special gem on display is called the Medusa emerald. Its long crystals were embedded in a 'brick' of quartz, and it took several months for experts to remove a portion of the covering.

Do you believe that gemstones can be cursed? You can see the Cursed Amethyst at the Natural History Museum.

Amethyst Used for Alternative Healing

Amethyst has probably been used for healing therapies since the stone was discovered in ancient times. The word amethyst is derived from a Greek word that means 'not drunken,' and one of the gem's most popular traditional uses has been to prevent physical and mental addictions.

The word protection is often associated with amethyst, and the gem is believed to enhance a person's connection with divine. Amethyst elixirs have been used to treat bone and joint conditions, and the gem is said to aid sleep. Some people place amethysts in bedrooms, often choosing amethyst geodes that have been opened.

More Gemstones Used by Alternative Healing Practitioners

Rose Quartz
Herkimer Diamonds

Disclaimer: Information about gemstone healing is not intended as medical advice or a substitute for professional medical care. My gemstone healing articles are a quick introduction to traditional beliefs that specific crystals and gemstones can be used in ways that go beyond simple body decor.

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