February’s Jewellery auction features a beautiful Edwardian clover motif amethyst and seed pearl pendant (lot 15). The combination of this Edwardian style, an encouraging estimate of £120-180 and the inclusion of amethysts means that this item is sure to perform well. Lot 24 features two brooches; again these are older items and estimated at an enticing £50-100 these too should be added to everyone’s ‘to view’ list.
Amethysts are a variety of quartz that became popular in the Victorian era when vast deposits of the gem were discovered in Brazil. Before this point amethysts were often as expensive as diamonds and other precious gems and were not as widely available. Frequently seen in Scottish jewellery, the stone was given its name in ancient Greece and means ‘not drunken.’ The belief was that a person wearing the stone would be protected from suffering the effects of too much alcohol. Historically the gem has featured in many significant situations. It has always been worn by higher ranking members of the Catholic Church and Tibetan Buddhists who consider the gem to be sacred.
The colour purple is also associated with royalty; initially the rarity and price of amethysts made them available only to this elite group. Amethysts feature in the British Crown Jewels. The most valuable amethysts are those with a strong reddish purple colour, those that are not too dark and have a single consistent colour. As with most gems, those examples of amethyst with no visible inclusions are the most valuable but ‘zebra stripe’ inclusions are typical to the stone.