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“A” is for Amethyst

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“A” is for Amethyst. State gemstone. Amethyst is violet or purple-colored quartz. The word comes from the Greek amethystos, meaning “not drunken.” This reflects the tradition that ancient Greek sailors liked to drink wine form cups studded with the stone, believing that they could not become intoxicated. South Carolina is one of the few states in the country where gemstone amethyst of good quality can be found. One of the largest amethyst finds in the United States occurred in 1965 at the Ellis-Jones Amethyst Mine, near Due West in Abbeville County. This was a fifteen-pound cluster of amethyst crystals of rich purple color. In 1974 a large group of Due West crystals went on display in the Gems and Minerals Section of the National Museum of Natural History. Amethyst became the official South Carolina gemstone in 1969.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.