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AMETHYST

Amethyst was a highly valuable gem until the discovery of large deposits in South America in the late 1800s. Brazil is the primary exporter to this day, although the stone is common in many countries. Still, its range of attractive color - from pale lilac to deep purple - makes it extremely popular. Banding - darker and lighter zones of color - is quite common in amethyst. A good amethyst will be very clear, and the deeper the color, the more valued. 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.

Rose de France amethyst is a quartz defined by its lighter shade of purple (lavender or lilac) to pink color (rose or mauve tint) than traditional bright purple amethyst.

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. The most precious form of quartz, amethyst receives its color from iron and manganese. It is a durable stone, with a Mohs hardness rating of 7.