The February-born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they an amethyst will but wear.
Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz (SiO2). The name originates from Greek andmeans“not intoxicated", a reference to the belief held by the ancient Greeks and Romans that the stone prevented drunkenness.
Amethyst owes its colour to iron impurities, the presence of various trace elements and irradiation. The colour of amethyst is rarely constant throughout a single stone but is laid down in patches parallel to its crystal faces. As a result, amethyst must be cut carefully and in a way that makes the tone of the finished gem appear constant, with the “brilliant round” most popularly used to maximise uneven colour. Other cuts are used when the colour is better distributed, including the very popular cabochon.
The very popular cabochon cut is a forgiving cut for flawed or unevenly coloured stones
Amethyst can range in colour from the lightest of violets to deep purple. Stones are graded using the terms Siberian, Uruguayan or Bahain to represent high, medium and low quality stones respectively, regardless of the actual source. The most ideal grade is called "Deep Siberian" and has a primary purple hue of around 75–80%, with 25–20% blue and red secondary hues.
Amethyst has had a long an interesting association with humankind. Because its hardness is equivalent to quartz (second to diamond on the Mohrs Scale of Hardness at 9), it has remained a popular stone for jewellery making throughout the ages. Its use can be traced back at least 25,000 years, when Paleolithic people in Europe first used it as a decorative stone. The Greeks and Romans believed it warded off drunkenness and they adorned their drinking cups liberally with amethysts, while medieval European soldiers wore amethyst amulets for protection in battle in the belief that they maintained cool-headedness. One of the two Saint Valentines is also said to have worn an amethyst engraved with the figure of Cupid. In Arabic tradition, amethysts are believed to protect their wearers from bad dreams and gout. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst could dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence. Because amethyst was thought to encourage celibacy, it was used extensively for ornamentation by the Catholic church and often worn by bishops. The colour purple is traditionally associated with royalty, and amethyst was therefore used to adorn the raiment and jewels of state of monarchs and rulers, particularly in Europe, as some of the finest deposits in the world were once found in Russia. In fact up until the 18th century, amethyst was included in the cardinal (most valuable) gemstones along with diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald. However when sizeable but lower quality commercial deposits were discovered in Brazil and Uruguay in the 19th century, the value of the stone decreased accordingly.
Today, amethyst is considered to be a lovely and affordable gemstone, found in many different forms of modern adornment. It is also popular in the form of geodes or druzes amongst gem collectors.
References and Further Reading
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Kashgar began through a love of travel.
In 1989 my father Bernard packed in his house painting business and set off for two years on a backpacking trek to the remotest corners of the world. When he finally arrived in the oasis city of Kashgar, China, he was so impressed with its history that he decided to start a new life collecting and selling exotic goods from all over the world. For 2000 years the legendary city of Kashgar was a melting pot of ideas and a key trading post on the historic Silk Road. It was this unique combination of philosophy and trade that my father wanted to recreate at home.
Starting in markets in 1991, he opened his first store in the Sydney suburb of Newtown in 1994. I gave up my own career as a government scientist to join him in 2000 and soon convinced my partner Ian to join us in what was to become the Family Business.
Today our version of Kashgar stocks a hugely diverse range of furniture, rugs, textiles, antiques, handicrafts and jewellery sourced from over twenty different countries including India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Thailand, Burma, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Our collection includes contemporary and tribal silver and gold jewellery, a unique range of headhunting curios, antique Buddhist relics and a collection of one-off necklaces, earrings and bracelets that I design and create myself using the beads and jewellery making techniques of ethnic minorities from around the globe.
Kashgar is a philosophy as well as a store. We are committed to supporting traditional artisans and small village communities by selling authentic handcrafted goods which are personally collected by us. By supporting traditional methods of design and production we hope to encourage local cottage industries which have a low impact on the environment and help ethnic minorities maintain their self-sufficiency into the 21st Century. We are particularly committed to assisting women around the world and to this end have worked with several organisations including the Hua Bin Women's Union of Vietnam, the East Timorese Women's Association and Tikondane in Zambia. Time honoured means of craftsmanship and traditional ways of life are disappearing as people all over the world give up their identity in favour of jeans and T-shirts. We see our trade as a means of staving off the inevitable encroachment of the 21st century, assisting communities to decide for themselves which parts of the western world they wish to incorporate (medicine, education) and which they wish to reject (prostitution, drug production, begging and servitude to warlords). We encourage our customers to think of the handicrafts and artifacts they buy from us as an investment: a piece of history and a way of life that may soon be gone forever.
Kashgar has recently closed its retail outlet and gone completely online.
In the past our pieces appeared in many movies including The Hobbit, Mission Impossible 2, Queen of the Damned, Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge and Wolverine, and in many televisions series, as well as in plays, commercials and exhibitions. We've found special pieces for individual customers as well as for film sets, event management companies, hotels, businesses, consulates and embassies. The uniqueness of our stock means that we are also very appealing to interior and fashion designers with a taste for the exotic.
There is something for everyone at Kashgar - collectors, the curious, those looking for a special present or for something unique to adorn the home. Most of our items are one-off specialties; other pieces we only stock in small quantities so as to continuously offer a wide and ever-changing range of interesting products. We are also packed with ideas for decorating home and work premises that will challenge your established concepts of design and storage.
Please enjoy - Linda Heaphy
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