Common Amethyst, and the stone (perhaps) generally-designated amongst
the ancients by this name, is nothing more than rock crystal coloured
purple by manganese and iron, and on this account is more properly
termed in modern mineralogy Amethystine Quartz. It is therefore of an
entirely distinct species from the true Oriental Amethyst, a most rare
and valuable variety of the Precious Corundum, and which is in fact a
purple Sapphire, but its purple shows little of the red (ponceau) seen
in the common Amethyst, being rather an extremely deep shade of
violet.* The name of " Oriental " is, however, improperly applied by
the English lapidaries to the Amethystine Quartz when very brilliant
and of two shades of colour (qualities distinguishing the Indian from
the German), the true gem of the name, from its rarity, being known to
very few among them.
name " Amethyst," though most probably a mere corruption of the Eastern
name for the stone, a trace of which seems preserved in the Hebrew
Achlamath,f was by the fanciful Greeks interpreted as though formed in
their own language, from à ìþõ " wineless," and on the strength
* The common Amethyst, formerly brought from Carthagena in Spain, and now only to be met with in old-fashioned pieces of jewelry, alone of its species exhibits this pure violet colour.
t Perhaps the true origin is, as Von Hammer suggests, the Persian " Shemest."