Discovery

If You were Born in August, here’s Why Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel are Your Birthstones

By: Shmukler Design

August babies are now part of a select group that has three birthstones. We say now because just a few years ago, the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) authorized spinel to join peridot and sardonyx as an official August birthstone.

Spinel is only the third update to the birthstone list since it was officially created in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association, now JA.

Get to know spinel, along with peridot and sardonyx, in today’s Custom Jewelry Blog entry:

Spinel is now an August birthstone

Spinel

To explain its addition to the birthstone list, which occurred in 2016, ATGA’s CEO Douglas Hucker said in press release issued at that time:

Ancient gemstone merchants revered spinel, and it was widely sought after by royalty. It was then known as ‘Balas Ruby.’ It wasn’t until the late 18th century that we developed the technology acumen necessary to distinguish spinel asa separate mineralfrom ruby. We are very excitedto announce it asthe newest memberof the official birthstone list.

Spinel’s historical significance

Based on Hucker’s commentary, it’s easy to see why spinel is known as the great impostor of gemstone history. For centuries, it was mistaken for a ruby, even by the most renowned royal jewelry experts. Pink and red spinels were also mistaken for pink sapphires for centuries, making this gem a true chameleonthat’s mistakenly been mounted in crown jewels under the assumption they were rubies.

The most well-known hue of spinel — which is most often found in Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand — is red. Thousands of years ago, the mines of central and southeast Asia yielded large spinel crystals that, at the time, were called Balas rubies, as the AGTA’s Hucker pointed out in his remarks above. Those stones were valuable property of emperors and kings and were frequently passed along as the spoils of war.

It has been said that distinguishing spinel from ruby is what gave birth to the science of gemology in the early 1800s. As it turns out, some of the most famous rubies in history are actually spinel.

  • The “Black Prince’s ruby,” which Edward, Prince of Wales, won in battle in 1367, was a spinel
  • The “Timur ruby” in the Crown Jewels of England have been confirmed to be spinel, not ruby

The name “spinel” comes from the Latin word spina, meaning thorn, in reference to the shape of spinel crystals. While most commonly discovered as a red stone, spinel can also be found in orange, pink, purple, blue, and even black hues.

Historically, red spinel, along with other red gems, was thought to be a remedy for all types of blood loss and inflammatory diseases, and to protect their wearer from harm and enhance vitality – because the red color was associated with blood. The red gems are also believed to ease anger and promote harmony. In fact, there are legends linking spinel to soothing sadness and aiding their wearer in overcoming challenges.

Cleaning and care of Spinel

Spinel is a durable gem for jewelry, with an 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness. As a result, it is stable when exposed to chemicals and light. You can clean your spinel with ultrasonic and steam cleaners, but to be on the safe side, we recommend warm soapy water, because some colors of spinel can fade in high heat.

Peridot is also an August Birthstone

Peridot

Peridot, the most famous August birthstone, is known for its bright, lime green glow. The signature color comes from the composition of the mineral, not the trace impurities, where most gemstones find their colors. Because of this, peridot is one of the few stones that only comes in one color, although the shades vary slightly from a yellowish to a brownish tone, depending on the level of iron present.

Peridot is the rare gem-quality variety of the common mineral olivine, which forms deep inside the Earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. In a few rare cases, gem-quality peridot has also been found in meteorites — some as old as 4.5 billion years.

The Egyptian island of Zabargad is the first known earthly home to peridot, as early as 340 BCE. Today, most peridot is found in China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Tanzania, Vietnam, Hawaii, and the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona.

In Hawaii, peridot once symbolized the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess of fire who was believed to control the flow of lava. There is also a beach in Hawaii named for the stone, Peridot Beach, which has sand that shimmers in a beautiful green hue.

Like its fellow August birthstone, spinel, peridot has historically been a trickster, mistaken for both topaz and emerald. It is actually referred to by many as The Evening Emerald but can sparkle at any time of day. In addition to being one of August’s birthstones, the luminous beautiful peridot is the gem traditionally given to celebrate a 15th wedding anniversary.

The lore of Peridot

The origins of the stone’s name are unclear — most scholars agree that the word “peridot” is derived from the Arabic faridat, which translates to “gem,” but some believe it comes from the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” The Greek name would explain why peridot is associated with prosperity and good fortune.

Peridot has also been used for centuries as a protective talisman, shielding the owner from evil spirits and “terrors of the night” when set in gold. It was a gem favored by medieval societies and appeared in priests’ jewelry as early as the second century BCE and later in the chalices and churches of medieval Europe.

The peridot symbolizes vitality, nature, and strength, both for an individual and within a relationship. The strength and promise of new growth ahead symbolized in peridot is likely what led it to the wedding anniversary gift list.

Cleaningand care of Peridot

With a hardness of 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale, peridot is softer than most gems and cannot take hard wear and tear, so it is not the best stone to use in a ring that you wear daily. It can be damaged by some acids and even by long-term exposure to acidic perspiration. Cleaning your peridot is a delicate process. Never use a steam or ultrasonic cleaner, because the gem is vulnerable to thermal shock. The safest cleaning method is to use a soft-bristle brush with mild dish soap and warm water. Peridot jewelry should be stored with care to avoid scratching from gems with greater hardness.

Sardonyx is August’s Third Birthstone

Sardonyx

Sardonyx is a double whammy: a mix of sard and onyx, two types of cryptocrystalline quartz. The stone has a distinctive contrast between color layers — bands of reddish brown to dark orange sard alternate with white or black onyx.

Sardonyx dates back about 4,000 years to the Second Dynasty of Egypt. In ancient times, it was a popular stone for Roman seals and signet rings, since hot wax would not stick to it. For centuries, the bands of color in the stone have made it a popular carving material for engraved cameos and intaglios. Unlike rare gemstones that were historically limited to wealthy royals, this August birthstone has been popular with elite and regular folk alike.

While India is known for producing the sardonyx with the most contrast between the different colored layers, this gem can also be found in Brazil, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Madagascar, Uruguay, and even in the United States.

Sardonyx mythology

Sardonyx is associated with courage, happiness, and clear communication, and is said to bring stability to marriages and partnerships. It is also believed to be one of the stones in the High Priest’s breastplate, as referred to in the Old Testament, and to represent the strength of spiritual life. Roman soldiers wore sardonyx rings with images of Hercules and Mars carved on them for protection in battle and to harness the victory of heroes and gods.

During Renaissance times, sardonyx was associated with fluent and persuasive speaking and writing. It was worn by orators and public speakers to aid clear thinking and communication.

Cleaning and care of Sardonyx

Like peridot, sardonyx is a 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale and care should be taken when wearing it, especially as a ring. Sardonyx is commonly dyed, so high temperatures, such as those used in jewelry manufacturing or repair techniques, might affect the color of dyed sardonyx. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners should be used with caution. Again, we suggest warm soapy water applied with a soft-bristle brush as the safest option to clear your sardonyx.

For more information about August’s birthstones — or how to create a setting that makes them stand out — call us at (949) 870-9915 or use the online contact form on the Shmukler Design website.

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