Amethyst is a violet semiprecious stone, the traditional birthstone for February. The name comes from the Ancient Greek a ("not") methustos ("intoxicated"), a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness. The ancient Greeks and Romans wore amethyst and made drinking vessels of it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication, while medieval European soldiers wore amethyst amulets as protection in battle in the belief that amethysts heal people and keep them cool-headed.
Amethyst comes in hues ranging from light pinkish violet to a deep purple; the ideal grade is deep purple with rich blue and red secondary hues. The best varieties of Amethysts can be found in Siberia, Sri Lanka, Brazil and the far East. Amethyst is included in the cardinal, or most valuable, gemstones (along with diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald).
Collectors look for depth of color, possibly with red flashes if cut conventionally, but owing to the fact that sometimes only a thin surface layer of violet color is present in the stone, or that the color is not homogeneous, makes for a difficult cutting.