Amethyst has a long history stretching several thousand years and is still a popular gemstone today. It is found all over the world. There is a rich supply in the northern shore of Lake Superior near Thunder Bay, Canada which is why amethyst is the Ontario's provincial gemstone.

The Greek origins of its name - a ("not") and methuskein ("to intoxicate") reveal its traditional purpose as a talisman against drunkenness. A Greek myth tells of the god of wine, Dionysus (Roman name : Bacchus) who was angered by a mortal's insult. He then set tigers upon an innocent girl, Amethysta on her way to pay homage to the shrine of the goddess Diana. In order to protect her, Diana changes the girl into a rock crystal (clear quartz) statue. Dionysus repented by weeping tears of wine or poured wine over it thus giving the quartz its characteristic colour.

In the Old Testament, amethyst was amongst the twelve gemstones in the Breastplate of Aaron. A bishop's ring with an amethyst gemstone has been part of a bishop's official insignia for over 1000 years. It symbolises a bishop's betrothal to his church. Today, amethyst represents the eighth hour of the day, Wednesday, the 17th wedding anniversary and is the birthstone for February.

Photo Credit : MShades on Flickr

Ontario Amethyst : Geology of Amethyst in the Thunder Bay area