The Birthstones of August: Peridot, Spinel & Sardonyx
Most of the months out of the year have only one or two birthstones. Luckily for the August babies, it has three! The official birthstones for August are peridot, spinel, and sardonyx, which each have their own unique history, symbolism, and personality. Here’s everything you need to know about these eccentric gemstones.
Why Does August Have Three Birthstones?
There are three birthstones associated with both June and December, in addition to the month of August. But why is that the case?
These three gemstones were chosen by Jewelers of America along with The American Gem Trade Association as the official birthstones for August. Sardonyx was originally the only birthstone for August. However, since peridot was commonly mistaken for sardonyx due to their similarities in color range, it was decided that peridot would be taken on as the second August birthstone. Furthermore, in August of 2016, spinel was added as the official third gemstone in an effort to keep up with a more modern birthstone.
The history of Sardonyx dates all the way back to the Second Dynasty of Egypt around 4,000 years ago. However, it became popularized with the Ancient Greeks and Romans, who would wear sardonyx talismans during battle engraved with heroic gods. They believed that wearing these talismans would grant them courage, protection, and victory on the battlefield.
Furthermore, the Romans used sardonyx for rings and seals that were used to imprint wax on official documents. This is because hot wax did not stick to sardonyx and made the waxing process a whole lot easier.
Sardonyx was not only popular in Greek and Roman times, but also in the Renaissance era. In Renaissance times, sardonyx was associated with eloquence. Sardonyx was thought to improve communication and clear thinking, therefore, it was commonly worn by public speakers.
The Symbolism of Sardonyx
Many legends and folklores have their own meanings, beliefs, and symbolism behind sardonyx. As mentioned before, sardonyx commonly symbolizes courage, protection, and clear communication. But it is also a symbol of happiness and balance. In the Middle Ages, sardonyx was believed to counteract the negative effects of onyx, which was thought to bring sadness, anger, and anxiety. People in Ancient times would also put sardonyx on every corner of their homes to protect against evil.
Sardonyx Fun Facts
Now that we’ve moved past the historical and symbolic side of sardonyx, here are some fun and interesting facts you may not have known about this sublime gemstone:
- The name “sardonyx” derives from the Greek words “sard,” which means “reddish-brown,” and “onyx,” meaning “veined gem.” Put it all together and you’ve got a reddish-brown veined gemstone (which makes perfect sense).
- Although sardonyx is most commonly this reddish-brown color, it has a wide variety of colors. It can range from yellow, brown, or purple to black, white, or grey!
- Most sardonyx gemstones today are found in Brazil, Germany, Madagascar, and the United States.
- Roman women believed that wearing Sardonyx would attract love due to its red fiery shades.
Sardonyx comes with a fascinating history. Today, its inexpensiveness and elegant style makes it the perfect gemstone for anyone to wear on any occasion!
The first peridot ever discovered dates all the way back to 1500 B.C. on the volcanic island of Zebargad in the Egyptian Red Sea. The Ancient Egyptians were so in love with this apple-green-colored gemstone that they ended up keeping the location of the island a secret. The Ancient Egyptians also nicknamed peridot the “gem of the sun,” believing that it would guard them against the terrors of the night.
It has been well-known and documented throughout history that Cleopatra and the Egyptian people had a strong fascination with emeralds, as Egypt was abundant with them. However, some historians believe that Cleopatra’s famed emerald collection may have actually been peridot.
In medieval times, people found it difficult to tell the difference between emeralds and peridot. Therefore, they would constantly mistake them for one another. Germany’s Cologne Cathedral held 200-carat emeralds inside but these gemstones were later discovered to be peridot.
The Symbolism of Peridot
Peridot is believed to symbolize peace, good health, harmony, and restful sleep. It is known as the gemstone of compassion and tranquility. It is also believed that if peridot is set in gold jewelry, it will protect the wearer from bad dreams. Peridot is thought to help aid in depression and strained relationships. In Christian folklore, the peridot was a symbol of purity and chastity, therefore it was most commonly worn by high-ranked officials of the Catholic Church. Some traces of peridot have also been found in Hawaii. The Hawaiians believed that peridot symbolized the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire.
Peridot Fun Facts
Although all this information on peridot has been more than interesting, here are some more fun facts you may not have known about this gemstone:
- The name “peridot” derives from the Arabic word “faridat” which means “gem.” Needless to say, this is definitely one of the least creative names for a gemstone.
- The color of peridot can range from a deep olive green to a pale yellow-green. This color is caused by the amount of iron found in the crystal structure in which they are formed.
- Peridot is found in the Earth’s mantle. This makes it very unique because almost all gemstones are found in the Earth’s crust.
- Peridot has been found in space! Well, kind of. Trace amounts of peridot have been found at meteorite crash sites, which means that peridot actually exists in space!
If you’re looking for a gemstone with a rich history and powerful symbolism, peridot is the one for you!
The spinel gemstone has a long and checkered history. It was first discovered in Buddhist tombs in Afghanistan dating all the way back to 100 B.C. It is known as being “the most underappreciated gemstone,” and we definitely agree with that. Remember how we said peridot was frequently mistaken for emerald? Well, it’s the same case for spinel. Due to their similar red color, spinel was regularly mistaken for ruby and many spinel gemstones were named after the ruby gemstone.
In ancient times, large spinel crystals were mined in Southeast Asia and were called “Balas Rubies.” These “rubies” were commonly owned by emperors and kings, but little did they know that these distinguished rubies were actually spinel.
One of the most esteemed spinel gemstones of all time is known as the “Black Prince’s Ruby.” In 1367, Prince Edward of Wales received this crimson-red spinel gem as a gift for a battle victory. Many other famous English monarchs have cherished this gem throughout history and spinel outlived all of them. This gemstone lived through WWII bombing raids, fires, and even theft. Due to its rich history, it became extremely admired and sought-after. It eventually became one of the centerpieces of England’s Crown Jewel, which today is valued between $4-$6 billion!
The Symbolism of Spinel
Spinel is believed to symbolize passion, longevity, and devotion. It is thought that spinel helps a person to become devoted to another person and set aside egos. Diamonds are famously known to be the “gemstone of love,” but it seems as though spinel is more fit for this title. Spinel is also known for being beneficial in boosting energy, stamina, memory, and other cognitive abilities. According to urban legends, some people have believed that spinel can help to communicate with a God or any higher power. They believe this is due to spinel being able to improve intuition and mental clarity.
Spinel Fun Facts
Now it’s time for our favorite part, the fun facts! Here are some interesting facts that you may or may not have known about spinel.
- Spinel is one of the only few gemstones that comes in every color. They can be any color of the rainbow, including black white, grey, and even clear!
- Red spinels get their color from traces of chromium. Most blue spinels get their color from traces of iron, but the bluest spinels get their vibrant color from cobalt.
- Spinel is one of the hardest gemstones of all. This gemstone scores a whopping 8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. The only gemstones harder than that are diamond, ruby, sapphire, alexandrite, and chrysoberyl.
- Although spinel is extremely rare, they are surprisingly affordable. This is because there isn’t much of a demand for spinel gemstones when it comes to jewelry, but we’re hoping that changes soon!
Looking for a rare ruby-like gemstone with a fascinating backstory for just a fraction of the price? Looks like spinel is in the cards for you!
Replacing Your Missing Peridot, Spinel, or Sardonyx
Thinking about restoring a loved one’s sentimental birthstone piece? You’re in the right place to restore their precious memories.
Gemstones provide life to any piece of jewelry, yet have the highest potential for damage. Whether it be a loose, lost, or scratched-up Peridot, Spinel, or Sardonyx, we take restoring the life of your treasures seriously. Any gem, any damage, we’ll make your jewelry sparkle as bright as the day you got it.
We have a team of specialists in place to properly source every type of gem needed for your treasured item. We understand your gemstones are unique and require specific attention. Our Professional Stone Sourcing team makes sure that all of your gems, even the ones that sometimes go unnoticed, are replaced by stones of the right caliber for your piece.
Visit our Gemstone Replacement Services page to learn more about servicing your Peridot, Spinel, or Sardonyx.
- Calcite Spinel: https://commons.wikimedia.org/
- Peridot Stone Crystal: https://commons.wikimedia.org/
- Peridot: https://commons.wikimedia.org/
- Sardonyx Cameo with a Bacchic Group: https://commons.wikimedia.org/
- Peridot Mineral Cabinet: https://commons.wikimedia.org/
- Spinel Viet: https://www.flickr.com/
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