THE LORE OF AMETHYST RINGS
It’s likely that you already know amethyst, the February birthstone. But did you know the hidden lore around this mysterious gem? Once considered one of the five most precious gems, today it is a well-known jewel, popular in many jewelry styles – especially amethyst rings. Let’s dive in and examine the storied history of this plum gemstone.
A ROYAL GEM
Throughout recorded history, this violet jewel has been counted among the most precious of stones. Alongside diamond, ruby, sapphire, and emerald, amethyst was seen as a royal gem. Some queens, like Cleopatra, wore amethyst rings. But what happened? How did the reputation of this purple gem diminish?
Previously, amethyst gems were quite scarce, and only known to occur in a few locations. During the early eighteenth century, however, deposits of amethyst were found in Brazil. This shook the jewel trade to its core, as these purple gems were quickly becoming popular and affordable.
As more could afford precious amethyst, the stone slowly fell out of favor among the elite, who prefer to covet exclusive baubles and treasures. Brazil has remained a strong producer of these mulberry rocks, and Bolivian and Bahia amethyst is among the most popular.
ANCIENT AMETHYST RINGS
The body of lore surrounding amethyst goes back centuries. Many texts describe its powers. It was said to quell violent passions and keep one chaste by reducing physical desires. It comes as no surprise to learn that the Victorians were highly fond of Rose de France Amethyst.
Amethyst was also said to be valuable for those in business, as early lore keepers said amethyst keeps one clear minded. With its reputation for helping one avoid inner conflict and temptation, it was a popular stone for lawyers, soldiers, and sailors.
Some of the earliest adopters were the Romans. Citizens of the empire thought that this stone aides in matter of the heart. As a result, Roman women would wear jewelry made of this gem, such as amethyst rings. Popular lore of the era suggests that it would help them keep their spouse’s interest and help a marriage stay long and healthy.
THE RING OF CLEOPATRA
Among Ancient Egyptians, amethyst was a powerful talisman. For them, it was a stone of intellect, which they called hemag. Though Cleopatra is best-known for her love of emeralds, she collected many gems. For instance, one piece we know of is her amethyst signet ring.
In her work Mystic Gems, Harriet Keith Kobes tells us, “The signet ring of Cleopatra was of amethyst engraved with the figure of Mittras, the Persian deity who symbolized the Divine Idea, the source of light and love.”
As a powerful queen of the Ancient World, it makes a certain sense Cleopatra would employ such a symbol. One can image how she would want to tap into the wisdom Mittras as she maintained rule through her wit and guile, not to mention her legendary beauty.
THE RING OF ST. VALENTINE
Throughout history, members of clergy wore symbols of their station. At one time, amethyst was a stone of bishops. Its link to sobriety, clear-thinking, and fidelity are likely for this link.
Legends say that St. Valentine, who married lovers in secret, wore an amethyst ring. These tales say that a figure of Eros, otherwise known as Cupid, was engraved upon the stone. Given the history of this holiday, it certainly feels appropriate! Supposedly, this ring was called “Arthur.” Truly, it was a men’s amethyst ring!
Poets went on to immortalize the connection of amethyst to St. Valentine, and lovers everywhere. As red and blue combine to produce violet, they said it symbolizes the powers of day and night. This is because deep violet hues represent true love. These poets went on to compare this violet to the dusk and dawn of each day.
THE RING OF EDWARD THE CONFESSOR
Among its powers amethyst has the ability to protect its wearer from contagion or disease. The last king of Wessex was known for a large amethyst worn in a favorite ring. A popular story suggests that artificers removed this gem for placement into the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. The tradition continues, and it is said that the stone continues to protect the king or queen from contagious diseases.
MAGIC AMETHYST RINGS
During the nineteenth century, there was a renewed interest in the occult. Many of these mystics sought to revive ancient practices and patterns of belief in the pursuit of the occult.
For example, practitioners would use special vestments and jewelry when performing different rituals during the week. G. F. Kunz writes in his work, The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, “Tuesday is assigned to the “Works of Wrath,” and on this day the robe must be red, the color of fire and blood, with a belt and bracelets of steel; the tiara should have a circlet of iron, and a sword or a stylus is to be used in place of a wand; the ring is set with an amethyst.”
Whether or not these amethyst rings were of any benefit remains unseen.
Whether as a birthstone, zodiacal symbol, or token of affection, the mysterious influence of amethyst rings continues to echo through the centuries. Are you ready to take the plunge? How will it affect you?
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