Monday, November 15, 2010

Amethyst - Named By The Ancient Greeks

The purple gemstone amethyst has been treasured by mankind since its discovery, and has been highly desirable by people in positions of authority throughout the ages. Tradition has it that the stone was worn as part of the official robes of ancient Jewish priests and represented the spirit of God. This type of quartz was used in jewelry and crowns of kings and queens of ancient Egypt, royalty of the Middle Ages of Europe, all the way to the present day.

The color of the stone can range from deep violet to pastel purple. The stone is found in various amounts in many places of the world, with most of the amethyst mined in modern times coming from South America. It is the birthstone for the month of February.

Origins Of The Name
The name amethyst comes from the ancient Greek word amethystos that means 'not intoxicated'. In ancient times it was thought that if a person drank alcohol from a cup made from amethyst they would not get drunk. This also led to the sprinkling of ground amethyst into wine to make the drinker immune from alcohol's effects.
These attributes for amethyst in turn derive from ancient Greek stories. One of these stories tells that the Greek god Dionysus was in love with a Greek maiden named Amethystos. She did not return his love, and prayed to the Greek goddess Artemis to protect her and her chastity from the drunken god. The goddess answered the prayer and turned Amethystos into crystals of white quartz. When Dionysus discovered what had happened, he wept for his lost love and poured his goblet of wine over the crystals, thus they were dyed purple.

From ancient Greece to modern times the rich purple hues of amethyst have made it a very popular gemstone. Formerly reserved for the rich and powerful, modern discoveries of large deposits of the stone in South America have made the beautiful stone affordable for more people to own and enjoy.


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