Purple has long been considered a royal color so it is not surprising that amethyst has been so much in demand during history.
Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst was able to dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence.
Because amethyst was thought to encourage celibacy and symbolize piety, it was very important in the ornamentation of Catholic and other churches in the Middle Ages. Amethyst was, in particular, considered to be the stone of bishops and some still wear amethyst rings.
Amethyst was considered to be a strong antidote against drunkenness and the gemstone still symbolizes sobriety. Ceremonial wine is frequently drunk from goblets fashioned from it.
The legend of the origin of amethyst comes from a Greek myth.
Bacchus, the god of wine, was angered one day by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal that would cross his path. In order to perform this, he created fierce tigers. Along came the unsuspecting Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Diana turned Amethyst into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws of the tigers. Bacchus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god's tears stained the quartz purple, creating the gem we know today.
Some fine amethysts are featured in the British Crown Jewels, and have been a favorite with such diverse figures as Egyptian royalty to Catherine the Great, who sent thousand of workers to the Uralian mines to search for the best quality, thus creating the « Siberian » grade.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February and the gemstone for the astrological sign of Pisces.