August Birthstones: Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel

Peridot Gem

Introduction to Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel

August is unique for having three associated birthstones: peridot, sardonyx, and spinel. These three gems range widely in color, history, and geographical origin, offering a palette of options for those born in this month.

Peridot, a vibrant green gemstone, is often associated with light, and it is believed to possess healing properties. Sardonyx, an ancient stone, combines alternating layers of sard and onyx—two types of the layered mineral chalcedony—to create a reddish zebra-striped gemstone with white bands. Spinel, on the other hand, can be found in a variety of colors, but most popularly in pink and red.

Aspect Details
Birthstone Month August
Birthstones Peridot, Sardonyx, Spinel
Symbolism Peridot: Light, Healing; Sardonyx: Courage, Happiness; Spinel: Revitalization, Hope
Origins Peridot: Found in Egypt; Sardonyx: Traced back to Egypt and Rome; Spinel: Mistaken for Ruby in many places around the world
Mythology and Beliefs Peridot: “Gem of the sun”, wards off evil spirits; Sardonyx: Bravery, clear communication; Spinel: Hope, revitalization
Physical Properties Peridot: 6.5-7 on Mohs scale; Sardonyx: 6-7 on Mohs scale; Spinel: 8 on Mohs scale
Use in Jewelry Peridot: Various styles, vibrant green color; Sardonyx: Cameos, brooches; Spinel: All types, including daily wear rings
Care and Maintenance Avoid high temperatures and harsh chemicals, clean with warm soapy water and a soft brush
Psychological and Emotional Significance Peridot: Healing, light; Sardonyx: Courage, happiness; Spinel: Hope, revitalization
Choosing a Birthstone August offers three choices: the vibrant green of Peridot, the bold bands of Sardonyx, and the varied hues and revitalizing energy of Spinel

Origin and History of Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel

Peridot, also known as olivine, has a history that dates back to ancient Egypt. The gem was mined on a volcanic island in the Red Sea known as Topazios, now Zabargad. The gem was greatly loved by Cleopatra, who wore it frequently.

Sardonyx has a history that dates back over 4,000 years to Ancient Egypt. The Romans also valued it highly, carving it into cameos or seals used in documents.

Spinel has a long history of being mistaken for ruby. In fact, some of the most famous “rubies” in the world are actually spinel. This includes the “Black Prince’s Ruby” and the “Timur Ruby” in the British Crown Jewels.

The Mythology and Symbolism of Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel

Peridot has often been associated with light and, as such, has been referred to as the “gem of the sun” by ancient Egyptians. Some believe that it can ward off evil spirits and nightmares, providing peace and good luck to the wearer.

Sardonyx is believed to embody the virtues of courage, happiness, and clear communication. It was traditionally used by Roman soldiers who wore sardonyx talismans engraved with heroes such as Mars or Hercules, believing that the stone would make the wearer as brave as the figures carved on it.

Spinel, on the other hand, has been regarded as a stone of revitalization and hope. It is thought to help the wearer put their ego aside in devotion to another person.

Spinel Birthstone

The Various Facets of Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel

Peridot’s value is based on its color, clarity, cut, and size. The most sought-after peridots are a dark olive-green and have an iron content that contributes to their vibrant color. They can range in size from tiny gem-quality crystals to large chunks of rock.

Sardonyx, on the other hand, is valued more for its color than its translucency. Unlike many other gemstones, the presence of bands, rather than the lack of inclusions, increases a sardonyx’s value. The stone is often cut into cabochons or carved into cameos.

The value of Spinel depends on its color, size, and synthetic counterparts. The most desirable spinel color is a hot pink or ruby-like red, but it can be found in blue, purple, and even black. It is often cut in cushion and oval shapes, although it can also be found in round, emerald, and pear shapes.

Physical Properties of Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel

Peridot is a relatively soft stone, ranking 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The gemstone is highly sensitive to rapid temperature changes and can crack under extreme temperature fluctuation.

Sardonyx ranks 6-7 on the Mohs scale. It is generally stable to light and isn’t affected by contact with acids. It also is relatively hard and durable, making it suitable for a variety of jewelry types.

Spinel is quite hard, ranking 8 on the Mohs scale, making it a durable gemstone suitable for all jewelry types, including rings that are subject to daily wear.

Sardonyx Birthstone

Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel in Jewelry Design

Peridot’s vibrant green color pairs well with a variety of metals and gemstones. It’s often cut into a wide range of styles, including traditional faceted cuts and innovative artisan cuts. It’s commonly used in rings, earrings, pendants, and bracelets.

Sardonyx is most often cut en cabochon and used in cameos, intaglios, brooches, and beads. When set in jewelry, sardonyx is often cut into a smooth, flat oval shape, and deep-brown layers are often dyed black to increase contrast with the white bands.

Spinel is a versatile gemstone used in various forms of jewelry, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. It’s often faceted to bring out its brilliance and can be cut into a variety of shapes.

How to Care for and Clean Jewelry with Peridot, Sardonyx, or Spinel

All three stones require similar care. Avoid exposing them to high temperatures or harsh chemicals. When stored, they should be wrapped in soft cloth or placed in a fabric-lined box. To clean these gemstones, use warm soapy water and a soft brush.

Conclusion: The Lasting Appeal of Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel

With their vibrant colors and rich history, peridot, sardonyx, and spinel offer a wide range of options for those born in August. Whether you’re drawn to the lively green of peridot, the bold bands of sardonyx, or the vibrant and varied hues of spinel, these August birthstones make for meaningful and beautiful jewelry pieces.