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The Meaning of the August Birthstone

August is a lucky month, as it has not one, but three beautiful birthstones. If you’re born in August or are shopping for an August birthstone, you’ll have three gemstones to choose from: peridot, spinel, and sardonyx.

Read on to learn more about the history behind these distinctive gemstones and what makes them so enchanting.

Peridot Birthstone History & Symbolism 

Peridot is a rare gemstone that only occurs naturally in one color. It is a form of Olivine (think olive green), a mineral composed of magnesium and iron. With the inclusion of outside elements, certain gemstones can occur in every color of the rainbow. Peridot, however, only exists in subtle shades of green.  

Peridot ranges in color from yellowish lime green to deep, earthy olive tones, making them a highly sought-after choice for jewelry. These gemstones are a wonderful option for those who love green gemstones but are looking for a less expensive alternative to emeralds, as certain shades of peridot can easily be confused with emeralds. When set against lustrous sterling silver, peridots can show off their fresh, vibrant sparkle.  

Peridots have been steeped in myth for thousands of years. The Egyptians called peridot the “gem of the sun,” and some thought it even protected against nightmares. Peridots are also closely connected to Hawaiian culture—they are thought to be the tears of the volcano goddess Pele. The sand on the Big Island’s Papakolea Beach is a rare and beautiful green hue due to a high content of crushed olivine.  

Where Is the Peridot Birthstone Found? 

Peridot is a stone created under extreme conditions deep within the mantle of the Earth, then brought up from the mantle and found in hardened lava. It also hides within meteors dropped down from outer space, giving the stone an even more powerful and intriguing appeal. More practically speaking, this August gemstone is usually sourced from China, Pakistan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Tanzania, and the United States.

Meanwhile, the most valuable pieces are not sold but rather stored in museums worldwide.  

Value of Peridot 

The value of this stone is determined by its olivine content, depth of color, and level of transparency. Peridot gems that are deep olive green with little to no hint of yellow hold high value, and ones that are highly transparent instead of murky are the highest in value.  

In terms of formation, people might value peridot specifically because it is formed in the Earth’s mantle, and the only other gemstone that is formed there is diamond. For applications, peridot makes fabulous birthstone gift jewelry and is also used for meditation, concentration, understanding, and psychological insight.  

Peridot Cleaning and Care Tips 

Peridot has a 6.7 to seven score on the Mohs hardness scale, so it is softer than other gems like topaz, corundum, and diamonds with an eight, nine, and ten hardness score respectively.  

This relative softness means that it is not as suitable for daily use, as it can show signs of wear more quickly. That said, part of caring for a topaz ring is carefully choosing when to wear it and when to leave it at home. When cleaning peridot, it‘s important to gently use a soft bristle brush with warm water and mild dish soap, and nothing more. Overdoing the cleaning process by using steam or an ultrasonic cleaner can damage peridot jewelry as they are susceptible to thermal shock in those conditions.   

Spinel Birthstone History & Symbolism 

The shape of the spinel gem’s crystals is thorn-like, which is why its name comes from the Latin word for thorn. Spinel’s most frequently occurring color is bright red, which looks similar to the ruby. But as opposed to peridot, the spinel August birthstone has a vast range of colors, including purple, violet, red, pink, blue, blue-green, and orange. 

Long mistaken for rubies by ancient rulers and monarchs, this unique gemstone has recently surged in popularity. First mined in abundance in Southeast Asia, Spinel was initially mistaken for a ruby. The gemstone was beloved by royalty and spread in popularity through Asia and Europe. Legend has it that spinel gemstones are associated with revitalization and are said to inspire, refresh, energize, and give endurance to its wearer.  

Today, spinel has recently regained popularity as the demand for rubies has increased. Although vibrant red and cobalt blue spinel are most sought after – this stunning gemstone comes in virtually every color of the rainbow. These gemstones are a wonderful option for those who love red and blue gemstones but are looking for a lower price point to rubies and sapphires. 

People once believed that red gems, including the August birthstone spinel, played a significant role in treating inflammatory diseases and blood loss. This gem also symbolizes anger management and harmony.  

Where Is the Spinel Birthstone Found? 

Spinel is found in numerous countries, including but not limited to some of the countries where peridot is found, such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Pakistan. Sri Lanka is where much of the world’s spinel is mined, especially blue, purple, and pink spinel. Red spinel is also mined in Sri Lanka as well as Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  

Value of Spinel 

Spinel is valuable given its symbolic history of healing, harmony, and hope. If you’re wearing spinel, you are thought to be protected from harm. It also has a Mohs hardness rating of eight, making it more durable and thus sought after for daily jewelry use.  

In terms of color, the deeper and richer the spinel stone is, the more valuable it is seen to be. Red spinel is typically considered to be the most valuable.  

Spinel Cleaning and Care Tips  

Spinel gemstones rank an 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness and may require a little extra care due to their softness. We recommend removing your spinel jewelry before doing activities that may cause surface scratching to your gemstone such as exercising or outdoor activities.  

Spinel is also sensitive to intense heat and can potentially start to fade in color with prolonged exposure. An effective at-home care routine for your spinel jewelry consists of washing your pieces with warm soapy water and gently scrubbing with a soft bristled toothbrush, followed up by completely drying your jewelry and storing in a dry environment.  

Sardonyx Birthstone History & Symbolism 

Sardonyx, the original August birthstone, is the oldest of the three gems. Given that it’s a combination of sard and onyx, it typically has the appearance of bands. The history of sardonyx dates back over 4000 years. During ancient times in Rome, it was commonly used for singlet rings and seals since it could come into contact with hot wax.  

Used as a gemstone of strength and protection since ancient Egyptian times, sardonyx is associated with bravery, happiness, and optimism. Sardonyx has long been believed to absorb negative energy from its wearer and promote health, positivity, and good fortune.   

This unique semiprecious stone is a variety of silica which contains layers of tiny quartz fibers. These fibers are stacked on top of each other giving the stone a banded or layered appearance. The layers of stone vary in color and range from opaque to brown, and even a vibrant red.  

Roman women believed that this deep, red color symbolized love and attraction and could harness it for their relational powers. Additionally, Roman soldiers would wear rings with sardonyx to protect themselves in battle. It wasn’t just the ancient Romans who found meaning in the sardonyx, either. People in Ancient Greece used them for carvings and protection during battle.  

All that said, the sardonyx has several symbolic associations, including courage, spiritual strength, happiness, optimism, confidence, good fortune, and relationship stability.  

Where Is the Sardonyx Birthstone Found?  

Sardonyx birthstone can be found in countries across the globe, such as the United States, Madagascar, Brazil, Germany, Uruguay, and the Czech Republic. The sardonyx that is most sought after is found in India, where many jewelry dealers agree the highest quality of the gem comes from.  

Value of Sardonyx  

The value of sardonyx, a particularly traditional birthstone, mainly lies in its ancient ties and historical symbolism that give the gemstone’s ongoing use enduring, significant meaning. Additionally, since ancient times, it has been believed that sardonyx has the ability to absorb negative energy. According to this belief, the darker the gem’s color, the more negative energy it has absorbed.  

The banded, combination design is also unique and stands out in rings, necklaces, braces, and other types of jewelry.   

Sardonyx Cleaning and Care Tips  

Similar to peridot, Sardonyx is a relatively soft stone ranking at a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This may lead you to take extra care and consideration when wearing your favorite sardonyx pieces. We recommend removing your sardonyx jewelry when doing physical activity that may cause abrasions to the surface of your gemstone such as: gardening, housekeeping, and exercise. Care for your sardonyx jewelry by washing your pieces with warm soapy water and gently scrubbing with a soft bristled toothbrush. Be sure to completely dry your jewelry using a soft towel and storing your pieces in a dry environment.  

August Birthstone Facts  

Facts About Peridot 

Facts About Spinel 

Facts About Sardonyx  

August Birthstone FAQs  

Why are there three birthstones for August? 

The American Gem Trade Association and Jewelers of America decided that peridot, spinel, and sardonyx are all August birthstones. Sardonyx, a stone that ranges from amber to bright green in color, was the original August birthstone. Due to its similar coloring, peridot was often mistaken for sardonyx, and was eventually adopted as the second August birthstone. Spinel was added as an alternate gemstone for August in 2016 in an effort to make modern updates to the birthstone list.   

What is the true birthstone for August? 

Sardonyx was the first August birthstone dating back to ancient Egyptian times. Soldiers wore this stone during battle as they saw it as a sign of strength and protection. 

What is the August birthstone color? 

Given that there are three birthstones for August (spinel, sardonyx, and peridot), there are many colors associated with August birthstones. The most common are green (peridot), bright red (spinel), and reddish-brown (sardonyx). 

August Birthstone Jewelry

Looking for August birthstone jewelry gifts? Discover some of our favorite and most popular peridot and spinel jewelry below!

Peridot Bezel Bracelet

Both elegant and timeless, this bracelet features a charming bezel-set peridot on a delicate cable chain.

Nimbus Ombre Ring

Shimmering black diamonds, salt and pepper diamonds, and spinels create an eye-catching ombre effect that wraps half of the way around this chic, whimsical ring.

Mosaic Ring

Chic yet timeless, this trendy ring features multi-hued sapphires, peridots, aquamarines, and London Blue topazes for a whimsical, eye-catching look.

Peridot Charm

This charm features a flush-set peridot representing the month of August. Chic yet timeless, it’s also perfect for anyone whose favorite gemstone is a unique green.

Cassis Pendant

An emerald-cut morganite takes centerstage while a peridot and rose-cut diamond rest on either side in this lovely three stone pendant.

Lilac Bouquet Pendant

A glittering gemstone cluster of amethysts, pink spinels, tanzanites, and diamonds gather together for a truly unique look. This pendant is chic, playful, and perfect for any occasion.

Fashion forward with classic sophistication, these vibrant peridots are set in comfortable basket settings.

Final Thoughts 

Which of the three August birthstones would you claim as your favorite? Share with us in the comments below or on our InstagramFacebook, or Twitter! 

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