Bacchus, the god of wine, was drunk, and announced that the first mortal to
come across his path would be eaten by tigers. Along came the lovely maiden
Amethyst, on her way to worship at the shrine of the goddess Diana. To rescue
her from a violent death, Diana transformed Amethyst into stone. When Bacchus
viewed the miracle, he repented and poured wine over the stone, staining it
purple. This is the legendary creation of the gemstone amethyst, for the Greek
words 'amethystos' meaning 'not intoxicated'
In popular belief, the amethyst offers protection against drunkenness and
seduction. In ancient times, amethyst was being engraved and cut into sculptured
forms and people liked to drink wine from amethyst cups.
Roman women claimed the gem could keep their husbands faithful, and used it in
Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God in the official robes of the
High Priest of the Jews, and the Russian Empress Catherine the Great sent
thousands of miners into the Urals to look for it.
It was thought to put the wearer in a chaste frame of mind and symbolize trust
and piety, for this reason, amethyst came to occupy a very prominent position in
the ornaments of the Catholic clergy over the centuries.