“Birthstones are a fun, popular and colourful area of gemology and resonate with all audiences regardless of gender, age, nationality or religion,”
said Terri Ottaway, curator of the GIA Museum. “The lore, origins, attributes and characteristics associated with various gems are educational and hold universal appeal for all of us.” GIA is one of my favourite Gemstone Education and grading organizations. I highly recommend a visit to their museum located in Carlsbad California on your next west coast USA trip. Currently, there is a birthstone exhibition worth seeing for sure.
The American Gem Society, as well, has a birthday present for August babies. Spinel has been added as the third birthstone, joining Peridot and Sardonyx (love the name).
August now joins June and December as the only months represented by three gems.
The original birthstone for August was Sardonyx, and then Peridot was added, becoming August’s primary gem. Now Spinel adds its multitude of colour choices!
Spinel is often mistaken for other gemstones because it tends to resemble either a ruby or sapphire.Some of the most famous rubies in history have turned out to be spinel! However, its distinguishing features, like its octahedral crystal structure and single refraction, are what sets it apart from other gems. Spinel also has a lower Mohs hardness than ruby and sapphire. Vivid red is the most desirable colour of spinel gemstones, followed by cobalt blue, bright pink and bright orange. The more affordable stones 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.
Most scholars agree that the word “peridot” is derived from the Arabic word faridat which means “gem,” but some believe it’s rooted in the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” Perhaps that’s why peridot is associated with prosperity and good fortune.
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 Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess of fire who controls the flow of lava.
Rarely, peridot is also found inside meteorites.
Peridot’s signature green colour comes from the composition of the mineral itself—rather than from trace impurities, as with many gems. That’s why this is one of few stones that only comes in one colour, though shades may vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish-green, depending how much iron is present.
Peridot only measures 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, so while the raw crystal is prone to cracking during cutting, the finished gemstones are fairly robust and easy to wear.Most of the world’s peridot supply comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Other sources are China, Myanmar, Pakistan and Africa.
Also known as “the Evening Emerald” because its sparkling green hue looks brilliant any time of day, peridot is said to possess healing properties that protect against nightmares and evil, ensuring peace and happiness. Babies born in August are lucky to be guarded by peridot’s good fortune. AGS
Sardonyx combines alternating layers of sard and onyx – two types of the layered mineral chalcedony – to create a reddish zebra-striped stone with white bands. 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, like onyx, shows layers of parallel bands—instead of the chaotic, curved bands that compose agate, another type of chalcedony. Used as a stone of strength and protection since ancient times, sardonyx is associated with courage, happiness, and clear communication. Some believe that placing sardonyx at each corner of a house will grant protection against evil.