The amethyst is the birthstone for February. It is the most highly valued form of the gemstone quartz.
It can range from transparent light lavender to smoky violet to the deepest royal purple, but is best known for it's intense, dark color. The darker the stone, the more valuable it is.
Popular with nobility through the ages, amethyst was considered more valuable than diamonds. The Greeks believed it protected them from intoxication, frequently drinking wine from goblets made entirely of amethyst. The ancient Egyptians believed amethyst could prevent poisoning, and it was a favorite crystal of Cleopatra. Many pharaohs were entombed with the purple crystal. And wealthy Egyptian rulers bestowed gifts of amethyst upon middle class citizens and farmers.
Amethyst is sensitive to heat. In fact, very dark crystals are sometimes heated to enhance their color. If overheated, however, it can change color or lose its color entirely. Sun will also cause it to lose color or become pale. The best advice is to store your amethyst jewelry in a dark area to help it retain its original color.