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Amethyst and Aquamarine: gemstones for February

By Staff | Feb 26, 2009

Six times each year, this column features the history, mythology, and facts surrounding various birthstones. February celebrates the lavender and purple hues of amethyst, and March enjoys the ocean blues and turquoise of aquamarine.


Legend tells that Bacchus, the Roman god of wine was in a terrible mood and decided to vent his ire by commanding his pet tigers to attack the first person that crossed his path. An unfortunate young girl, named Amethyst, was attacked and cried out to the goddess Diana for help. The goddess obliged by turning the girl to stone, and Bacchus spilled an offering of wine over the girl’s petrified form, creating the deep purple gemstone that we know as amethyst.

The word amethyst comes from the Greek word “amethystos,” or “not drunk,” referring to a magical attribute. For many years, drinking from an amethyst cup was thought to prevent drunkenness. In addition, amethyst was also supposed to cure emotional intoxication associated with love as well as guaranteeing success in sports, war, and business.

The colors of amethyst range from light to dark purple, violet, and purple-red. The color has long signified royalty, dignity, and justice. The stone appears in crowns, scepters, and other regalia from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome as well as the crown jewels of Great Britain and Russia.

Amethysts are regularly found in sizes as large as 20 carats or more and can be featured in a variety of cuts. The stone is reasonably hard and durable enough for daily wear. Some amethysts fade if exposed to intense light for a prolonged period of time.

Along with being the birthstone for February, amethyst is a talisman for Pisces as well as the gem that celebrates 6th wedding anniversaries.


The Romans believed that if the figure of a frog were carved on an aquamarine, it served to reconcile enemies and make them friends. An aquamarine was considered the most appropriate morning gift for a groom to give to his bride following the consummation of their marriage. The Greeks and the Romans also associated the aquamarine as the sailor’s gem, ensuring the safe and prosperous passage across stormy seas. And in medieval times, the stone was thought to reawaken the love of married couples and to render soldiers invincible.

The Sumerians, Egyptians, and Hebrews also admired and valued aquamarine greatly. It was a symbol of happiness and everlasting youth. The aquamarine was also used as an antidote for poison. Because there was a wide amount of poisonings amongst royalty at the time, there were many rings and pendants designed with this gemstone.

Aquamarine has been credited with curing belching and yawning. It was considered especially effective for curing ailments of the jaws, throat, stomach, liver, and toothaches. Aquamarine was also used in ceremonies in the belief that it would bring rain when needed, or visit drought upon enemies.

The name aquamarine comes from Latin or “water of the sea” and is a gemstone-quality transparent variety of beryl, having a delicate blue or turquoise color, suggesting the tint of seawater. Shades of aquamarine can range from the light blue of the sky to the deep blue of the sea with all shades of blue and turquoise in between. The stone rarely has inclusions and has good hardness and toughness, making it an ideal gem for daily wear.

The largest aquamarine ever mined was found in Brazil, in 1910. It weighed over 110 kg, and its dimensions were 48.5 cm long and 42 cm in diameter.

Along with being the birthstone for March, aquamarine is a talisman for Pisces and Scorpio as well as the gem that celebrates 19th wedding anniversaries.

The four-legged friends at Lily & Co., Lily and Gracie (plus their owners Sanibel-Captiva realtor Karen Bell and jeweler and G.I.A. diamondologist Dan Schuyler) will offer the latest jewelry trends and tips every other week. Lily & Co. is Sanibel’s only jewelry gallery, combining a fine jewelry store and art gallery in one location.

The gallery features several couture jewelry collections and the only collection of loose G.I.A. and A.G.S. certified diamonds, and colored stones. Lily & Co. is a full-service jeweler, offering jewelry repair and restoration, certified Rolex watch and clock repair, glass and metal hand engraving services, bead and pearl re-stringing, pewter and holloware repair and restoration, and appraisal services. Through our Positively Precious Program Lily & Co. purchases previously worn jewelry, stones, and fine stemware from customers for liquidation purposes.

Store hours are Monday thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about Lily & Co., call 472-2888 or visit www.lilyjewelers.com.