February Birth Stone - Amethyst
Amethyst is famous for its purple color. Not all amethyst is purple in color, there are also light purple, reddish-purple, bluish-purple, dark purple and there is even almost black in color. Top quality amethyst is a deep medium color of purple with rose-colored flashes. In its purest form, amethyst is colorless. The color agent of amethyst is iron. A fine amethyst is transparent, which allows light passes through the gem unhindered, while a translucent amethyst slightly weakens the passage of the light through the stone. Amethyst of best quality is "clean" or free of visible inclusions of any kind. In order for the color of the gem to shine through and eliminates any darker or uneven patches of color, most amethyst pieces are cut into circular or round shapes. Amethyst crystals consist of two types. The first is a six sided piece (looks similar to a pyramid) and the other type is a crusty type with pointed ends.
Today, most of amethyst gemstones on the market are heat-heated to produce deeper color. The process is permanent and these gems will not fade over time. Amethyst can lighten if exposed too long to strong sunlight. Its color will change to dark reddish brown or yellow when heated to 550-560 Centigrade (they are then called citrine, they are more expensive and richly colored than natural citrines). Also note that most citrine found on the market today is actually heat treated amethyst. Since purple has always been the color of royalty, amethysts abound in the ornaments of in the British Crown jewels and in the adornments of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians as well. Purple dye was once scarce and very expensive, therefore it was reserved for the garment of royalty, the color then regarded as symbol of power and status. Tibetans consider amethyst sacred to Buddha and fashion rosaries from amethyst beads.