Most people associate February's birthstone, amethyst, with quartz that is purple in color. It is not widely known, however, that amethyst also occurs naturally in green and yellow. We mostly see it in tones ranging from a pale lilac to a deep, rich purple. As with most colored stones, the deeper the color, the more valuable the stone. Most amethyst comes from South America (from Uruguay and Bolivia, and from especially large deposits Brazil), but it also is mined in Africa (in Namibia and Zambia) and Australia.
The Greek word "amethystos" literally means "not intoxicated." Myth tells us that Dionysus, the god of wine (and by virtue of that also the god of intoxication), was one day angry at all mortals and sought to take out his ire on a young mortal maiden named Amethyst. The huntress Diana turned her into a crystalline stone statue to protect her. Upon seeing the beauty of the statue, Dionysus cried tears of wine which splashed the figure and turned it purple.
New Age praticioners are fond of amethyst, believing that it guards against addictive behaviors, especially drunkenness. They also believe in the transformative power of amethyst, its support of inner peace and vision and its spiritual vibrations.
In the Old Testament, Aaron, a high priest of the Jews, wore an amethyst on his breastplate and slept with one to encourage revelation and foresight.
As well, amethyst is thought to be the stone of the bishops in the Catholic Church. The bishops today still wear an amethyst ring on the second finger of their right hands.
It is also considered by many to be a stone of royalty because of its purple color. Amethyst is found in the Crown Jewels of England, was favored by Catherine the Great, and was popular in ancient Egypt.
These gorgeous earrings from Bergdorf Goodman (no longer available) are favorites of my friend Kim in New York.
They are faceted amethyst briolette drop earrings on elegantly-formed gold wires. I believe they would be just as appropriate for evening as they would be for daytime.
And even if you don't buy into the thinking that they'll protect you from the claws of Dionysus and limited, Earthly and myopic vision, you will look fabulous wearing them.
(note: my new uncle Bill, a clergy member with the Episcopal Church, has mentioned that "according to tradition, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Eastern Orthodox bishops wear amethysts in their rings because according to Acts 2:5-15, when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles at Pentecost, they began to speak in other tongues and prophecy, and some spectators said they were drunk ("filled with new wine"). Peter said, "They are not drunk; they are filled with the Holy Spirit." So the apostles - and their successors the bishops - have worn amethysts ever since to show that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is true of bishops in all the Catholic traditions - Roman, Anglican, and Eastern
Orthodox. Originally green stones were customary, but eventually, perhaps because of the association with their princely role, purple became the norm." Thanks, Bill!)