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The mention ‘amethyst’ may bring to mind the picture of a jagged, purple rock, one of the many crystals that modern mystics claim to have healing properties.

Yet there was a time when the amethyst, also February’s birthstone, was considered just as valuable as diamonds, rubies and sapphires. Purple, after all, is a colour associated with royalty. That, along with its rarity made the amethyst a highly esteemed gemstone; frequently making an appearance in the jewels adorned by kings and queens, and other powerful figures like the Pope.

That is, until the early 19th century, when vast deposits of the violet treasure were discovered in Brazil. Now, relegated to a common crystal, the amethyst’s value is mostly determined by its hues; a quality that also sets it apart from other minerals within the quartz family.

Depending on the presence of iron or the effects of irradiation, the amethyst can come in quite a range of colours, from pinkish lavender to deep purple. The most prized shade is a strong purple hue with red undertones, which is also most prevalent in the finest jewellery creations.

Cartier bib necklace in diamond, amethyst, turquoise and gold (1947) (Photo credit: Nick Welsh, courtesy of Cartier)

In 1947, for example, Cartier famously designed an extravagant bib necklace for the Duchess of Windsor that spotlighted the amethyst — including a large, heart-shaped stone at the centre of it. The purple gem is also a favourite of Bulgari; the Italian jeweller often incorporates it into its bold designs, such as its Serpenti watches.

It’s clear that the amethyst is still highly regarded by some of the biggest luxury brands today. Below, we spotlight some jewellery brands that have taken artistic liberties with the gemstone, producing marvellous jewels that would make a perfect gift for those born in February.

Header image courtesy of Dior

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