Amethyst is the purple variety of the mineral quartz and can have tantalizing cool violet or warm purple hues. Crystal quartz is clear until iron and aluminum impurities are introduced. The more concentrated these elements, the richer the coloring.
Amethyst is not usually heat treated because heat destroys its iron bonds thus transforming it into golden citrine. However, poor grade amethyst will be intentionally heated to become a beautifully marketable citrine.
Amethyst's color can be an enticing reddish-purple that is reminiscent of wine causing its association with the Greek wine god Bacchus. In Greek 'amethystos' means "not drunk", so amethyst was used to evoke focus and clarity as well as to ward off drunkenness.
It's no coincidence that amethyst became the birthstone for the romantic month of February as it was recorded that St. Valentine was known to wear the gem as a carved cupid ring.
Purple has been a popular color for royalty because its pigment was so expensive to cultivate. Amethyst is an alluring royal shade and grows in large crystals with little to no inclusions making it the perfect specimen for stately royal jewels and papal jewelry.
Amethyst was initially used for extravagant works of art since it was considered on par with that of ruby and emerald. This changed in the nineteenth century when colossal deposits of the gem were found in Brazil.
Modern amethyst is found in abundance throughout the North and South Americas as well as Eastern Asia.
Since quartz is a hardy and durable stone, gem cutters are able to fashion amethyst into a smorgasbord of jewels. It is readily available as calibrated gemstones for middle market artists or can be carved into large elaborate fantasy cuts for visionary artisans.
Since amethyst is found in long eye-clean crystals, cutters prefer to create large faceted gemstones with a deep pavilion to elevate and even body color since color zoning is common.
Amethyst is a hard stone and can be cleaned with a soft brush in warm soapy water or wiped with a soft cloth. When stored, it should be wrapped to prevent it from scratching softer stones or it being scratched by harder stones such as diamond and sapphire. Avoid harsh chemicals when wearing this stone or any kind of jewelry.