Are you born in February? Maybe you know someone who is. The birthstone for those born in February is the popular purple gem, amethyst.
In this Learning Guide, I'll give you tips on how to pick out the best amethyst birthstones and answer these questions:
- Where are amethysts found?
- What is green amethyst?
- What’s the difference between synthetic and natural amethyst?
A Brief History on Birthstones
The use of birthstones dates back to biblical times, when it was recorded that 12 gemstones were placed in the breastplate of Aaron. The breastplate was believed to have been worn by the High Priest of the Israelites. The 12 stones were said to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
From this story, different cultures and religions adapted the 12 stones to representing the 12 months in the year. There are various birthstone charts and many have been modified over the years.
In the jewelry trade, we mainly acknowledge two birthstone charts: the modern birthstones and the traditional birthstones. The modern birthstone list still retained some of the traditional gemstones, but added new ones. Today, the birthstones are recognized as:
The February Birthstone — Amethyst
The February birthstone amethyst is one of the most popular colored crystals sought after today. It is a favorite for both fine jewelry as well as among the crystal healing communities.
It is the purple variety of quartz and comes in various shades of purple. Amethyst crystals have always been the birthstone for February, in both the modern birthstone and traditional birthstone lists.
Whether you're learning how pick out best quality amethyst jewelry, or you're interested in its metaphysical properties, we'll cover all that and more about the purple February birthstone.
History of Amethyst Crystals
Aside from being a choice stone for those with a February birthday, amethyst was also highly popular in ancient times. However, back then it was used for purposes it isn't known for today.
The name amethyst comes from the Greek word amethystos, meaning "not intoxicated". The ancient Greeks believed that wearing amethyst crystals would prevent them from becoming drunk. Goblets and chalices were often carved from amethyst to reinforce that belief.
The ancient Egyptians used amethyst for talismans and jewelry too. They used the stone for protection, which is one of its modern uses today. Many people wore amethyst jewelry in the form of signet rings and other types of rings. They also believed wearing the stone protected them from evil thoughts and intentions as well as bringing clarity to the wearer.
Healing Properties of Amethyst Crystals
Some of the ancient healing properties cultures believed amethyst to possess have shifted to modern day crystal healing practices and uses. Amethyst crystals are one of the most popular crystals for beginning crystal practices.
The properties of an amethyst stone is believed to aid the wearer/user by:
Bring Vivid Dreams
Protection from Negative Energies
General Healing Stone
Accessing Higher Consciousness
Where is Amethyst Found?
Quartz makes up almost 12% of the earth's crust, making it one of the most abundant minerals in the world. That includes the quartz with purple colors too. Amethyst is found in many locations around the world. The most significant producer of amethyst is Brazil. Other locations amethyst is mined from include:
How to Pick a High Quality Amethyst Crystal
Amethyst gems aren't precious gemstones like, rubies or sapphires. Being a semiprecious stone, you don't often get to choose your own amethyst when shopping at fine jewelry mall retailers.
Most places like Kay or Zales will carry lab-created amethyst, also sometimes called synthetic amethyst. Though amethyst isn't off the wall expensive like other high quality colored gemstones, synthetic amethyst is even cheaper.
In this section, we'll talk about how to pick out your own amethyst, which I really recommend doing if you're looking for a high quality amethyst ring or other amethyst jewelry pieces.
Amethyst colors range from a light lavender purple to deep, rich purple. As far as hues goes, amethyst stones may exhibit secondary colors of reddish purple or bluish purple.
The saturation of amethyst gemstones are important its color quality. Amethyst is known for color zoning, where the saturation of the purple doesn't reach the entire amethyst crystal. Amethyst can be purple, or heated to achieve a yellow color, often called heat treated citrine.
Typically, color zoning brings down the value of a crystal. However, color zoning with amethyst and citrine forms its own gemstone, known as ametrine.
Remember, the purple amethyst color is supposed to be the star of the show. If you want the best color amethyst for amethyst necklaces and rings, you're going to want to go for the dark purple variety of amethyst.
The most valued amethyst color is a deep purple with red and blue flashes, also known as Siberian amethyst. Siberian colored amethysts are more about color rather than locality.
If you're someone looking for a large stone for your jewelry, amethyst is a fantastic option. There's more than enough amethyst to go around for everyone. Amethyst geodes produce large crystals inside cathedrals.
With amethyst found easily at our fingertips, there's no real reason for it to cost as much as other stones, even in large carat weights.
Amethyst cathedrals and geodes go for considerably more than smaller faceted amethyst stones. These typically weight hundreds of pounds and can cost thousands of dollars.
An amethyst specimen can range from being an opaque stone to a completely transparent gemstone. Opaque stones are used more for decorative purposes and crystal healing. When worn in fine jewelry, amethyst is normally transparent and has very few natural inclusions.
There can be highly included amethyst, but it shouldn't be costly to find transparent ones. Avoid buying opaque amethyst for a February birthday present. Find a gorgeous transparent purple one easily at an affordable price.
The cut of an amethyst isn't prioritized as much as the color or carat weight. But that doesn't mean it isn't important. The cut quality serves as the base durability and brilliance of your stone.
The best amethyst cuts are said to be custom cuts and fantasy cuts. Fantasy gemstones aren't optimized for reflection and sparkle, but instead carved from the back to create beautiful pictures.
Read also: What Are Fantasy Cut Gemstones?
But if you're selecting from traditional amethyst shapes, I'd recommend choosing brilliant cut shapes in order to show off the darker purple amethysts. Light colored amethyst can look great in step cut diamond shapes as well as brilliant cut diamond shapes.
Where to Buy Amethyst Gemstones
Most jewelry stores and online jewelers carry a small selection of pre-set amethyst jewelry. Chain retailers often sell lab created amethyst rings in sterling silver or 10kt white gold for under $200.
Kay's carried brands that had higher quality amethyst stones, like LeVian or Sofia Vergara. With these pieces, you're paying more for the name and not the actual quality.
If you're really wanting a spectacular amethyst ring or other piece of jewelry, I'd recommend choosing a local jeweler or online jeweler that has loose amethyst. If they can source a particular amethyst for you, that's a great option.
Me, I like to do it the easy way, and that's by choosing Brilliant Earth. Brilliant Earth is one of the very few online jewelry retailers that carry gorgeous loose amethyst stones.
You can survey the clarity and color of various amethyst shapes using their 360˚ video. There isn't a super large collection of amethysts, but they all have a rich purple color.
After choosing your perfect amethyst, you have the option of picking out an engagement ring setting or purchase the stone as is. All of the loose amethyst at Brilliant Earth are also certified to be genuine amethyst.
Synthetic Amethyst vs Natural Amethyst
Lab created amethysts are more affordable than natural amethyst. In a secluded lab environment, the results of an amethyst gemstone tend to produce larger crystals with better clarity and saturation.
Created amethyst stones have all the same properties as natural amethyst. The durability, crystal structure, and brilliance is essentially the same.
The average customer won't be able to tell the difference between a natural amethyst and a synthetic amethyst. Amethyst may be hydrothermally created, or may be smoky quartz that has been treated with gamma radiation.
Types of Amethyst
Most people know amethyst as the purple stone for those with a February birthstone. There are certain kinds of amethyst found only in certain locations with certain characteristics. These are also given special amethyst names in the trade.
Here are the types of amethyst, as well as some confusing trade names associated with amethysts:
- Siberian Amethyst — deep rich purple characterized by red and blue flashes in the light.
- Vera Cruz Amethyst — From Mexico, characterized by its lilac shades.
- Chevron Amethyst — characterized by white chevron bands alternating between purple amethyst and white quartz.
- Brandberg Amethyst — amethysts found in Namibia, characterized by a smoky grayish purple color.
Sometimes you will hear the term "green amethyst". This is considered a misleading trade name. All amethyst is a purple-violet color. The name green amethyst is actually referring to green quartz. Though both amethyst and green quartz are the same quartz mineral, they have different chemical composition.
How Much Does Amethyst Cost?
We've touched on this a bit. Amethyst crystals are generally very affordable in small carat weights. If you're looking for faceted pieces of amethyst between 1-3 carats, you find yourself in a range of $20 to $100 per carat. The price of amethyst obviously comes from a number of factors we've discussed, but color is the main contributor to cost.
Light colored amethysts run about $20 per carat
Medium color purple amethyst run around $40 per carat
Best quality Siberian colored amethyst goes for around $100 per carat.
Wearability of February Birthstone Jewelry
Interest in gemstone engagement rings and other types of jewelry have increased, while the interest in natural diamonds has shifted more toward lab created diamonds. Both diamonds and colored stones have their place among fine jewelry.
Still, there are certains stones that are gorgeous, but not suitable for wearing often or in certain weather conditions. This can become problematic if you've chosen a gemstone for your engagement ring that doesn't hold up well to everyday wear and tear. Even with proper care, some gems are just for wearing occasionally.
Fortunately, amethysts are harder gems, meaning they stand and up well to scratching by dust and dirt particles in the air. The Mohs scale lets us know how hard a mineral is. Amethyst reaches a 7/10 on the mineral scale of hardness.
Amethyst is considered to have very good wearability. This makes it an excellent option for all sorts of birthstone jewelry including amethyst necklaces, amethyst rings, and amethyst earrings.
Read also: Best Amethyst Earrings
When cleaning amethyst, you should clean it with a mixture of mild soap and warm water. Dry thoroughly and store where it won't get scratched. Don't use ultrasonic cleaners or jewelry steam cleaners. Keep amethyst away from extreme heat, as this can cause it to change color.
Those born in February really lucked out with this beautiful purple gemstone. Amethysts are not only stunning, but they're suitable for everyday wear. They're also affordable in large sizes and come free of natural inclusions.
While lab created amethyst exists, most people opt for a natural amethyst due to their affordability and availability.
At the end of the day, the tone, hue, and origin chosen for your amethyst stone is up to personal preference. As long as you follow the quality tips and care guide, you too can possess a beautiful piece of February birthstone jewelry.