Gift-giving between lovers has become a traditional aspect of St. Valentine’s Day. Across the world, February 14th blossoms with bouquets, boxes of chocolates, romantic dinner dates and sweetly worded cards. In contemporary times, Valentine’s gifts of diamonds, rubies and heart motif jewelry (all stones and styles that have romantic significance: the classic diamond engagement ring, the passionate tone of a red ruby, the traditional heart shape, etc.) have taken center stage in advertising and pop-culture. However, the holiday has been associated with far different styles and gemstones in the past.
The birthstone for the month of February is the Amethyst and thus it seems appropriate that the gemstone not only has a historical relationship to romance but to St. Valentine as well. Considered to be one of the most precious gemstones by the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Hebrews and Christians, the stone figures in multiple mythologies but is universally considered to be both sobering and powerful. It protects its wearer from contagion and harm while simultaneously attracting the affectionate attention of the opposite sex.
Both St. Valentine and Cleopatra were alleged to have worn amethyst rings imbued with a love-related meaning. Cleopatra was, of course, famous for her love affairs with Caesar and Marc Antony.
St. Valentine is revered as a romantic figure of the 3rd century church who, according to legend, was persecuted and martyred for marrying Christian couples despite prevailing Roman law. His execution occurred on February 14th which now marks the Valentine’s Day holiday. Interestingly, legends also hold that Valentine wore an amethyst ring engraved with the figure of Cupid. The romantic significance of the amethyst gemstone, along with the mythological history of Cupid as a god of romantic love, seems to cement the figure of Valentine in a long-standing tradition of love, romance and passion.
The relationship between amethyst gemstones and lovers is not solely confined to ancient history. In the 18th Century and through the Victorian age lovers would often gift, or wear, specially designed acrostic gemstone jewelry. Acrostic jewelry is when special or important words or phrases are encoded in jewelry through the use of gemstones. In these pieces, things would be spelled out by gems where the first letter of the gemstone stood for a letter in the specific word. The amethyst, used to represent the letter “A,” frequently appeared in acrostic jewelry. A lover might wear jewelry that said “Faith,” “Dearest,” or “Regard” spelled out in the alphabet of gemstones with the vivid purple tone of an amethyst shining from within the rainbow design.
This year, why not express your everlasting love with a gemstone of true historical significance? Amethyst jewelry makes a fantastic and unexpected gift full of sentiment and sweetness – a gift to treasure forever.