“Wear a sardonyx or for thee,
No conjugal felicity;
The August-born without this stone,
`Tis said, must live unloved and lone.”
Peridot is only one of a very small number of gems which only comes in one colour, although it is a beautiful colour. Lucky for August babies, Spinel comes in a rainbow of colours, so there is something for everyone! Sardonyx is a banded gem where two layered minerals create an eye-catching striped gemstone.
Sardonyx is the earliest birthstone for August. It has been popular for centuries, dating back more than 4,000 years to the Second Dynasty of Egypt. Ancient Greeks and Romans went to battle wearing sardonyx gemstone talismans engraved with images of heroes and gods like Hercules and Mars. They believed the stone could harness the bravery of those figures, granting them courage, victory, and protection on the battlefield.
Sardonyx is also associated with happiness, and clear communication. During Renaissance times, public speakers and orators wore it to aid clear thinking and communication. Ancients believed that placing a sardonyx gemstone at each corner of a house will grant protection against evil – someone should tell characters in horror films about this!
However, unlike rare gemstones that were historically limited to wealthy royals, sardonyx has been popular with the elite and the masses alike. Relatively common and inexpensive, sardonyx is a beautiful gemstone that’s affordable enough to join any collection. It is often carved into cameos, intaglios, and brooches to show the colour contrast between layers.
Its name, similarly, combines sard (referencing the ancient Persian city, Sardis, in present-day Turkey, where the red stone was found) with onyx (from the Greek word of the same spelling, which meant “nail or claw.”) Sardonyx is part of the mineral family of chalcedony, and combines alternating layers of two different types (sard and onyx) to create a reddish zebra-striped gemstone with white bands.
Sard ranges in colour from yellowish red to reddish brown, depending on how much iron is present when the stone is formed. Sard is easily confused with carnelian, another type of chalcedony that is slightly softer and lighter in colour.
Sardonyx, like onyx, shows layers of parallel bands—instead of the chaotic, curved bands that compose agate, another type of chalcedony.
The Egyptians, most notably Clepatra, would most likely be wearing peridot instead of the emeralds that rumour has her wearing. Known to ancient Egyptians as the "gem of the sun", it is found near Egypt and the Red Sea, although now it can be found all around the world.
The word 'peridot' (pear-ih-doe) comes from the Arabic word for gem - "faridat". Also known as the "Evening Emerald", peridot is of a gentler hue. Peridot was historically confused with Emerald because of its colour. Peridot is believed to bring calmness and dissolve anger.
Peridot is still a modern favourite among jewellery purchasers and is one of only a few gemstones to come in just one colour. It is a beautiful colour though – the green gemstone contains very fine traces of iron which is what contributes to the hints of gold in the gemstone. The intensity of the colour is dependent on the amount of iron present.
Peridot is the gem-quality name for Olivine, a mineral which is mainly a product of igneous intrusions where melted rock from deep within the earth erupts at the surface, usually during volcanic activity. Olivine is part of a family of minerals called basalts. The mineral crystallises as the rock cools, and peridot is prospected and mined near lava and other volcanic activity making it a 'fiery' and passionate stone. Much of its ancient lore revolves around this love and passion, and bringing good fortune to lovers and others for the year to come. Peridot is also said to cure nightmares and is traditionally given as a gift for a 15 year wedding anniversary.
Certain meteorites also contain olivine (or peridot). First found in meteorites that have fallen to Earth, peridot is one of the few gems that has been found in an extra-terrestrial fashion. This "alien" has been found on Mars and the moon as well.
Furthermore, NASA has found this birthstone in the dust of a comets known as Tempel1 and Wild2. NASA sent a ship in early 2004 ironically called "Stardust" to collect samples from these comets. When the ship came back to Earth they found the comets contained the little green gem, but no little green men.
So for all you with August birthdays, you are truly out of this world – not bad for just one colour, right?
Spinel is a beautiful gemstone that is found in many colours: pink, red, purple, blue, yellow, brown and black. A famous gemstone in England’s State Crown, called “The Black Prince’s Ruby,” is actually a red spinel, as is the “Timur ruby”, another gem in the Crown Jewels. Many English monarchs, including Henry VIII, have prized spinel gemstones, but today, Spinel would probably win the award for ‘most underappreciated gemstone’ – if there were such an award!
Centuries ago, Sanskrit writings referred to Spinel as the daughter of ruby. The bright red colour of Spinel is so closely related to the Ruby the two of them have often confused in the past. Spinels are much rarer than ruby but, unlike ruby, they sometimes can be found in very large sizes.
Of particular interest is a vivid, hot pink with a tinge of orange that is mined in Burma, which is one of the most spectacular gemstone colours and unlike any other gem. Spinel also comes in beautiful blues, but these are extremely rare.
Vivid red is the most desirable colour of spinel gemstones, followed by the extremely rare cobalt blue, bright pink, and bright orange. The more affordable gemstones are often those with paler colours, like lavender. You may also find spinel in black, violet blue, greenish blue, greyish, pale pink, mauve, yellow or brown.
Believed to protect the owner from harm, to reconcile differences, and to soothe away sadness. However, its true appeal is the range of rich, brilliant colours and affordability, giving August’s children a real choice for their birthstone jewellery!