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Amethyst was a valuable gem until the discovery of large deposits in South America in the late 1800s; Brazil is the primary exporter to this day, although it is common in many countries. Still, its deep and attractive color makes it extremely popular. Banding - darker and lighter zones of color - is quite common. A good amethyst will be very clear, and the deeper the color, the better. The most common enhancements are heat and irradiation. Try not to expose an amethyst to excessive amounts of bright sunlight, as this can fade its color.
Perhaps the most unusual magical power ascribed to the amethyst is its ability to prevent drunkenness. It also is supposed to bring peace of mind to the wearer, and if properly carved, prevent fatal poisoning. In some legends, it represented piety and dignity.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February.