Tatler's Jewellery Editor showcases February's birthstone in 29 vibrant pieces

By Charlie Miller

The purple amethyst is this month's precious stone  

The imperial colour purple was worn by rulers of the Byzantine and Roman Empires, while amethysts adorned the fingers of bishops and the necks of European aristocracy and was given centre stage in the coronation regalia of British royalty.

The colour purple has long been associated with royalty and nobility, so it's no surprise that the vaults of our own Royal Family contain a number of these violet-hued gems. A large cabochon amethyst sits above the Cullinan 1 diamond in the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross of the British Crown Jewels, which has been used at every coronation since Charles II's in 1661. Queen Alexandra was a huge fan, and reportedly prized amethysts over all other gemstones.  In 1923, when Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the future Queen Mother, was engaged to be married to Prince Albert, Duke of York (who would be crowned King George VI), Alexandra gifted her new granddaughter-in-law an amethyst, diamond, and pearl sautoir necklace, with a large heart-shaped amethyst pendant as a centrepiece.

The Kent Amethysts are known to be the oldest suite of gems currently in the hands of the Royal Family. The demi-parure, consisting of a necklace, pair of earrings, three brooches and a pair of hair combs, originally belonged to the Duchess of Kent, mother of Queen Victoria, who commissioned the pieces during the first half of the 19th century. After her death, they passed to Queen Victoria who designated them an heirloom of the Crown, to be passed from Queen to Queen.