There is no denying the Amethyst is instantly recognizable by its striking purple colour, whether it is a delicate, pale lilac or a deep, vibrant blackcurrant. It is actually a variety of quartz but did you know that when it is heated, it loses its purple colour and changes into a dark yellow or orange citrine?

It is believed to bring peace and help meditation, and has been cherished by Buddhist monks to support prayer. The value of an amethyst is measured by its colour rather than by weight. The world’s largest amethyst was discovered in Uruguay in 2007 weighing in at a massive 2.5 tons! It’s known as the Empress of Uruguay.

It is said that Saint Valentine had a heart shaped ring with an image of Cupid carved into it. Maybe that is why it has been designated the birthstone for February!

The Victorians loved amethysts and it was often used in love tokens or memorial jewellery as it was considered to represent love and fidelity. The time between 1861-1885 is known as the Grand Period when jewellery design became more heavy and opulent and amethysts and diamonds were very common, as well as sapphires, rubies, opals, pearls and onyx. These glorious gemstones were set in tiaras, necklaces with large pendants, lockets, hair decorations, brooches and long, rectangular bar pins.

Although Art Deco jewellery is more commonly associated with geometric shape, black onyx and diamonds, you can find some stunning examples of amethysts in jewellery of this time, particularly as designs drew on the Oriental and Eastern symbols of lotus flowers and pagodas. Bold colours were favoured too so amethysts were popular in brooches, bracelets and earrings of the period.

Originally published in the Purbeck Gazette 19th February 2024