September 08, 2023

August is one of the few months graced with multiple birthstone options - luminous peridot, dazzling spinel, and banded sardonyx. These gems span from light to dark and offer diverse styling possibilities. Discover the story behind each of August's captivating birthstones.

Peridot - The Vibrant August Birthstone

Peridot glows with a striking lime green hue, full of life. Formed deep within the earth and delivered to us in lava and meteorites, peridot is truly a celestial gem.

What is Peridot?

Peridot is the gem variety of olivine, a magnesium iron silicate mineral. Its signature green results from trace amounts of iron.

Ranging from yellowish to olive green, peridot often contains inclusions but can occur transparent. The most valued peridot is an intense, vivid green with slight hints of yellow or olive.

Mined for over 3,500 years, peridot jewelry became popular during the Baroque period in Europe. It remains an affordable alternative to emerald.

Peridot rates 6.5-7 on the Mohs hardness scale, so while not as durable as ruby or sapphire, it can be worn with care in most jewelry.

Peridot History & Lore

Ancient Egyptians called peridot the "gem of the sun," believing it brought the wearer light and happiness. Hawaiian folklore claimed its mystical powers connected the earth to the light of the sun.

Throughout history, peridot has been used for protection against nightmares, evil spirits, and dark magic. Some cultures powdered peridot for use as medicine or ground it to cure asthma.

The bright green gem is today's official birthstone for August, as well as the traditional 15th wedding anniversary gemstone.

Where is Peridot Found?

  • Arizona: San Carlos Reservation mines highly transparent peridot.
  • Myanmar: Mogok region known for fine lime green peridot
  • China: Longtime producer of gem-quality peridot
  • Pakistan: Hunza Valley region yields olivine crystals
  • Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa
  • Hawaii: Olivine sands and pebbles washed ashore by lava

The Egyptian island Zabargad was the earliest known peridot mine, producing gems over 3,000 years ago.

Buying Quality Peridot

  • Seek a vivid lime green hue without olive or brownish tints
  • Prefer stones with high transparency
  • Well-cut facets enhance the purity of color
  • Eye clean peridot is available even in larger sizes
  • Peridot crystals lend unique shapes for one-of-a-kind designs

Review our peridot buying guide for more expert tips on finding quality peridot.

Caring for Peridot Jewelry

As a softer gem, protect peridot from scratches, sharp blows, and temperature extremes. Store separately from other gems. Avoid ultrasonic and steam cleaners. Use warm water, mild soap, and a soft brush to clean peridot gently.

Styling the Vibrant Peridot Birthstone

Peridot adds verdant glow perfect for nature lovers:

  • Peridot solitaire pendants surrounded by petals of yellow diamonds
  • Stack peridot briolettes and rondelles as boho necklaces
  • Tennis bracelets alternating cushion and emerald cut peridot
  • Modern rings with bold peridot slices set in oxidized silver
  • Rose gold vine earrings with bezel set peridot drops
  • Men's signet rings with lime green peridot intaglio family crests

Invite peridot's sunlight glow into your jewelry collection as August's green birthstone.

Spinel - The Dazzling August Birthstone

Spinel dazzles with its rainbow of spectacular colors. For centuries, red spinel was mistaken for ruby. Today, we can appreciate spinel for its own striking beauty.

What is Spinel?

Spinel belongs to the cubic crystal family along with diamond, garnets, and fluorite. Traces of chromate impart the vibrant pink to red hues, while iron and magnesium produce purple, blue and orange spinels.

In addition to the bold reds it's known for, spinel occurs in pink, violet, cobalt blue, and fuchsia colors. The more saturated the color, the higher its value. Spinel also displays a natural octahedral crystal habit.

With a hardness of 8, the durable August birthstone suits any jewelry application. Larger clean spinels over 5 carats are quite rare.

Spinel History & Lore

Ancient Greeks and Romans were fascinated with spinel's fiery reds. Many famous old "rubies" were actually red spinels, like the Black Prince's Ruby set in the Imperial State Crown.

Red spinel was thought to protect its wearer from harm and soothe anger. Soldiers wore spinel talismans engraved with gods into battle.

In more recent times, pink and red spinel became a trendy 1950s jewelry gem. The vibrant August birthstone is also given for 22nd wedding anniversaries.

Where are Spinels Found?

  • Myanmar: Source for hot pink to red spinel crystals
  • Vietnam: Luc Yen mines with a spectrum of colors
  • Sri Lanka: Vivid blues along with pink and purple
  • Tanzania: Newer spinel supplier with orange and pink hues
  • Tajikistan: Historic source of beautiful red spinel
  • Afghanistan: Small but fine gem-quality spinels

Myanmar's Mogok region produces exquisite spinel crystals naturally polished by serpentine rock, believed to give the gems "spirit polish."

Evaluating Spinel Quality

Vivid saturation, clarity, cut quality and larger sizes determine spinel value:

  • Richly saturated color without brownish or grayish tones
  • Eye-clean transparency with few inclusions
  • Expert cutting to maximize brilliance
  • Fine reds over 1 carat are especially rare and costly
  • Natural octahedral spinel crystals command premiums

The more intense the color in clean, well-cut spinels, the greater their rarity and value.

Buying Quality Spinel

  • Look for spinels with vivid, strong color saturation
  • Prefer eye-clean transparency even in secondary hues like purple
  • Well-cut ovals, cushions, and rounds showcase color
  • Natural spinel crystals offer one-of-a-kind shapes
  • Ask about any heat treatment which lightens color

See our spinel buying guide for more expert advice.

Caring for Spinel Jewelry

With excellent hardness and toughness, spinel can be worn daily. Use warm soapy water and a soft brush to clean. Ultrasonic or steam cleaners are safe for most spinel. Avoid exposing spinel to the risk of hard blows that can cause fractures.

Styling the Dazzling Spinel Birthstone

Fun colors and bold shapes allow for eye-catching looks:

  • Vintage rose gold rings with round pink spinel accents
  • Blue spinel drops flanked by diamonds in 18k white gold earrings
  • Tennis bracelets alternating purple spinel and diamonds
  • Glamorous rings pairing emerald cuts with baguettes
  • Fashion chokers with bezel set red spinel cabochons
  • Geometric pendant earrings with pink and blue spinel

Spinel brings an exciting pop of color as an alternative tostandard gems. Have fun styling this bright August birthstone.

Sardonyx - The Banded August Birthstone

Sardonyx displays alternating bands of sard and onyx quartz, creating an eye-catching layered effect. The birthstone dates back over 4,000 years and was beloved by Roman soldiers and artisans.

What is Sardonyx?

Sardonyx is a variety of banded chalcedony, a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. Parallel stripes range in color from translucent reddish orange sard, to white, gray or black onyx layers.

Fine specimens show well-defined separating layers of color. Sardonyx takes a polished luster and was historically used for carved cameos and intaglios.

Unlike many other gems, sardonyx is relatively soft at 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale. So it requires more delicate care and occasional repolishing.

Sardonyx History & Lore

According to the Old Testament, sardonyx was a stone set in Aaron's breastplate representing strength. Ancient Greek and Roman stone carvers favored sardonyx for its bold banding.

Roman soldiers carried sardonyx talismans engraved with Mars the god of war for protection. Medieval Europeans believed the stone helped bring marital happiness.

Today, sardonyx symbolizes courage, clear communication in relationships, and optimism.

Where is Sardonyx Found?

  • India: Fine contrasting color bands in sardonyx.
  • Germany: Noted source since ancient Roman times.
  • Uruguay: Major exporter of banded sardonyx.
  • Brazil: Producers of material with wavy color variations.
  • United States: California, New Jersey, Montana.
  • Madagascar: More affordable commercial-grade sardonyx.

India exports many carved sardonyx cameos, beads, and cabochons. Other sources yield material ideal for carving due to defined color zones.

Buying Quality Sardonyx

  • Seek sharp demarcation between orange, white, and black layers
  • Prefer bolder contrast in colors over subtle hues
  • Evaluate carving quality in cameos or intaglios
  • Note special optical effects like chatoyancy
  • Distinct color patterns increase value

Well-defined differentiation between sard, onyx, and chalcedony bands adds intrigue in fine sardonyx.

Caring for Sardonyx Jewelry

  • Use warm water, mild soap, and a very soft brush
  • Avoid steam or ultrasonic cleaning
  • Prevent sharp blows that can cause fractures
  • Repolish worn sardonyx to restore luster

Take added care with softer sardonyx to prevent abrasions and scratches.

Styling the Banded August Birthstone

From cameos to modern designs, sardonyx offers styling versatility:

  • Filigree pendants framing carved sardonyx cameos
  • Chunky men's rings with intaglio family crests
  • Tennis bracelets alternating bezel set sardonyx and onyx
  • Long sardonyx beads in layered bohemian necklaces
  • statement rings with bold polished sardonyx ovals
  • Vintage cufflinks or dress clips with eye-catching patterns

Sardonyx provides a striking contrast you can blend into many looks.

August presents a spectrum of birthstones from light green peridot through sardonyx's dark and light layers. With triple options, August babies can find a perfect birthstone matching their personal taste. Which of August's gems resonates most with you - vibrant peridot, dazzling spinel, or banded sardonyx?

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