Amethyst is one of the world’s most popular crystals, and for good reason. The stunning purple color and eye-catching shine make for very unique decor and jewelry.

What is amethyst?

Amethyst is a variety of quartz, which would normally be a clear stone, but due to the exposure to impurities such as iron while the crystals form, they become purple. Like quartz, they are hexagonal crystals that terminate into points. Amethysts can form in many different shapes, sizes, and colors depending on the conditions that they formed in. This includes:
  • Druzy crystals: small crystal structures that usually form over a matrix, or bed of rock.

  • Scepters: individual points of quartz that form over another quartz. 

  • Split growth crystals: crystals that have many points branching off of it. 

  • Individual crystals: longer, well-developed crystals growing individually from other crystals.

  • Vein fillings: crystals that layer on top of one another to fill cavities in rock formations. 

Colors can vary from a very light, almost unnoticeable shade to a nearly opaque deep purple.

How does amethyst form?

Amethysts can be found in areas of volcanic activity, forming between igneous rocks and in geodes, hollow spheres of rock that are lined on the inside with crystals. These geodes are usually cut open to display the pattern of crystals inside, making for very attractive decor. They can also be cut into stones to make jewelry. 

Where does amethyst come from?

Although amethyst is found in many places around the world, most of them come from Uruguay or Brazil. Amethysts from Brazil are found in geodes, and are usually pale in color, with more color in the tips of the crystals than the rest of it. 

The amethysts found in Uruguay are also found in geodes, but are typically much darker in color and have more consistent coloration through the entire crystal. Bigger geodes from Uruguay may also have other mineral formations inside the geode, such as stalactites.

Amethyst can also be found in Canada, especially in Thunder Bay, Ontario, which has one of the biggest mines for amethyst in the country. Canadian Amethysts are not found as geodes, but in ancient naturally formed tubes that were created from volcanic activity. Canadian amethyst is unique and sought-after due to its red hues created by hematite impurities in the crystals.

The history of amethyst

The history of amethyst can be traced back to ancient Greece, where the stone was given its name, derived from the ancient Greek word “amethystos”, meaning ‘not drunk’. A legend about how the crystal was created goes that the God of Wine, Dionysus, became enraged after some mortals insulted him. In his blind anger, he tried to kill a young woman who was on her way to pray to the Goddess Artemis. Before the woman was killed, Artemis turned her into a statue of clear quartz to protect her. Dionysus, realizing what he had done, poured wine on the statue to give it a beautiful purple color. Because of this legend, the ancient Greeks believed that amethyst can be used to protect someone from becoming drunk.

Aside from the Greeks, amethyst stones were also popular in many other ancient societies, where they were most commonly found to be in the possession of royals and the wealthy, due to the color purple often being associated with royalty:
  • Ancient Romans, closely following Greek beliefs, used the crystals to prevent drunkenness, even making cups out of amethyst to drink wine from. 
  • The ancient Egyptians were also found to be fond of amethyst, as amethyst jewelry was commonly found in the tombs of pharaohs and kings. 
  • The ancient Chinese, much like the Greeks and Romans, also gave amethyst a functional use in their culture, as they were commonly used to clear bad energy from the body.

What are the properties of amethyst?

Amethyst is known for its calming properties. It is commonly used for calming the mind and body, which can help someone relieve stress and anxiety, as well as helping to achieve better sleep. When used in meditation, it may help the mind to ignore the daily stresses of life so that focus and relaxation can be more easily achieved. 
Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February, with the Zodiac sign of Aquarius. The traits commonly associated with this Zodiac sign are stability, peace, balance, sincerity and calmness.
Amethyst has a very interesting property in that they change color when exposed to heat. When heated up to around 300 degrees celsius, the color will change from purple to yellow or orange. This crystal is named citrine, and it has its own properties and uses, being used to receive positive energy.