February is here—and it brings along its regal birthstone, the amethyst. Until the Nineteenth Century, amethysts were very precious; they were considered one of the rare (and expensive) "Cardinal Gemstones"—alongside rubies, diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. At the time, they were only to be found in Austria and Russia (where the most beautiful, deep-purple amethysts were found). Medieval monarchs—especially in England—adorned themselves with the royal amethyst (given that the color purple has long been associated with royalty). Even today, Anglican bishops wear an amethyst in their episcopal rings. This is due to the ancient belief that amethysts prevented intoxication—and that alcohol, drunk from an amethyst bowl, would not cause inebriation. In fact, the name "amethyst" comes from the Ancient Greek root words meaning "not" and "intoxicate." Before the Greeks, the Egyptians used the purple stone, often enhanced with hand-engraved embellishment.
In recent centuries, the range of amethyst mining has increased dramatically, causing the rarity (and price) of the stones to plummet. Huge deposits of amethysts were discovered in Brazil, now the largest geographic source of the stone. Further, the stone has been mined in South Korea, South India, Canada and across the United States (from Arizona/Texas through Pennsylvania). Though they are now less precious, the amethyst is still a handsome, sophisticated and regal gemstone.
Although these sterling silver Art Deco cufflinks do not bear the actual gemstone, they are dressed in a handsome, amethyst colored enamel—and would make a lovely gift for any February birthday. Learn more about them by clicking on the photo above.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248