Amethyst – Birthstone of February

According to biblical lore, the deep, violet-hued amethyst means perfection; and where beauty is concerned, this jewel may truly be called ideal for many reasons. It offers the qualities of transparency, lovely coloring and soft brilliance which brought it into popularity centuries before the Christian era. It was the third stone in the third row in the jeweled breastplate worn by Aaron, the high priest of the Hebrews, which contained twelve precious stones. In the New Testament, these stones became the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem described in Revelation. Each stone was identified with a prophet.

From Egypt, where it had been known for centuries, the amethyst was brought to Greece in the period just following the death of Alexander the Great. Amethyst, taken from the Greek word amethustos (meaning unaffected by drink), had a soaring reputation up until the 1800s. When the Roman Empire came into being, the Greeks, while no longer the masters, went on making beautiful jewelry. Roman women in particular prized amethyst jewelry for they believed the amethyst could ensure their husbands’ love.

South American neighbors, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay, are producing at least 85% of the world’s most popular, affordably priced gems. Nevertheless, it is Russia and Africa that supply the finest quality stones. These stones have a regal appearance, containing a reddish overtone, which gives the appearance of a king’s velvet cape. Amethyst is a precious variety of crystalline quartz. It is quite durable and can be worn without worry of easy damage or abrasion.

Cos Altobelli is a third generation jeweler and president of Altobelli Jewelers in Burbank, previously located in North Hollywood for 60 years. His specialty is appraising for all functions and acting as an expert witness. He holds a graduate degree from the Gemological Institute of America and the title of Certified Gemologist Appraiser from the American Gem Society, is the author of three appraisal books and has appeared on ‘Prime Time Live’ several times. Mr. Altobelli can be reached at (818) 763-5151.

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