Above: August birthstone poem. Background photo credit: See sardonyx section.
There are three unique gemstones that represent the month of August. In this article, find out what are these August birth stones and what are their meanings and symbolism.
August is the eighth month of the Gregorian calendar. Originally it was named Sextilis, but it was later renamed as August to honor Roman Emperor Augustus. In the northern hemisphere, August is part of summer; whereas in the southern hemisphere, it is the middle of winter. August is host to two zodiac signs: Leo and Virgo. The birth flowers for August are Gladiolus and Poppy.
The tradition of designating one’s birthday with gemstone has been going on for centuries. However, it is important to understand that it’s an evolutionary concept. The list of birthstones that represent a particular month or year or date of birth is flexible. And it is different across cultures and at a different time. For the purpose of this article, we’ve picked three gemstones to represent August: peridot, sardonyx, and spinel. Let’s take a closer look at these gems to find out what they truly are and what do they mean.
Photo: Cut Pakistani Peridot. Credit: Dave Ault @ Flickr
Peridot is a modern August birthstone. Its history as an August gem is relatively modern. It was first recommended as an August gemstone around the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
Peridot is a variety of olivine. If you think the word olivine sounds a lot like the olive that’s because the two are, in fact, connected: olivine is named after its olive-green color.
Among green gemstones, peridot’s popularity is second only to emerald. While emerald and peridot are both green gems, emeralds are usually deeper in color and peridots are usually in olive green and on the lighter side. Scholars suggest that many emeralds in legends and historical records may actually be peridots.
Nobody knows for sure how peridot got its name. It’s been suggested that it might have originated from classical Latin pæderot (some kind of opal) or Arabic word faridat (translates to gem).
It is believed that peridot has been mined since approximately 300 BCE. The ancient Egyptian people mined the yellow-green stone from an island with conditions so harsh that it was given nicknames like “The Island of Death” and ‘Snake Isle.” Even though the conditions were treacherous, the stones that came from Zabargad were so large and luminous, it was deemed worth the risk. Many of these stones can be found today in museums across the globe.
Egyptian legend says that peridot was sent to earth from the stars. And that it had heavenly powers which promote healing and drive away bad energies. While its healing power remains unverified, it is true that peridots are found on moon and even Mars–yes, the red planet—and from meteorites that fall on earth.
Diamond and peridot belong to the exclusive group of gemstones formed in earth’s mantle. Other common gems are formed in the crust, which is the outermost layer of earth.
The vibrant green peridot symbolizes balance, peace, calmness, regeneration, rejuvenation, nature, and growth. Its color and clarity bring to mind bright summer days. Peridots promote positive emotions and also balance out negative emotions. Peridot has been used as talisman against nightmares for centuries. It is believed to promote restful sleep.
Photo: Sardonyx polished and carved into the shape of a seashell. Credit: beautifulcataya @ Flickr
Sardonyx is a traditional August birthstone and it is also considered the ancient birthstone for August. Sardonyx is a semi-precious stone that belongs to the chalcedony family. In terms of appearance, sardonyx is distinctive. Its signature look of white bands on orange-red body is unmistakable among its peers.
The name sardonyx is a compound noun made up of sard and onyx. That is because sardonyx is a red variety of onyx, and the redness comes from containing sard. Etymologically, the word came from Greek word sardonux via Latin.
Sardonyx is the August gem with the longest recorded history. References to sardonyx can be found as far back as the original text of the Bible. Throughout history, these stones have been a popular choice for broaches and cameos due to their different colored layers. They were often carved into signet rings (also known as seal rings) because they were not only lovely but also has the characteristic of not sticking to hot wax–a much-required criterion when it comes seals and seal rings.
Sardonyx is a symbol of strength, courage, and protection. It is also associated with happiness, health, and longevity. These bold stones have long been symbols of power and their owners are encouraged to wear them if they need extra charisma that doesn’t overwhelm others. Not only are sardonyx conductors of strength, but they are also believed to bring their owner clarity and are often used when meditating to help with blockages between the chakras.
Photo: Gem-quality red spinel crystals. Credit: Robert M. Lavinsky @ Wikimedia
Spinel is a modern August gemstone. Gemological Institute of America (GIA) suggested spinel as a designated August birthstone in 2019. While the association is new, spinel has had a long history in human civilizations.
Spinel is available in a variety of colors, but it is best known for its red stones. Other popular spinel colors include purple, lilac, pink, and blue.
Its name came from French spinelle which might have come from Latin word spina. Spina means “thorn” which could be an analog to the spinel pointed crystals.
Like many red gems, spinels are believed to promote devotion and passion in their wearers. Red spinels are associated with the root chakra and are often used when their owner needs help feeling grounded. Blue spinel is also a powerful grounding agent and is recommended for people who are anxious or feeling stressed out. All colors of spinel are thought to protect against negative energy.
Throughout history, spinels have been mistaken for rubies. Some of the largest and most famous rubies from antiquity have turned out to be spinels. One of England’s most famous Crown Jewels is a stone known as the Black Prince’s Ruby and is actually red spinel. This enormous stone passed from hand to hand down a line of Moorish and Spanish kings until being won by Edward of Wales and eventually being set into England’s Imperial State Crown. During the 18th century, jewelers began to distinguish between spinels and other gemstones. Spinel is set apart from other stones by their sharp, thorn-like crystalline structures.
In this article, we discussed three unique gemstones for the month of August: peridot, sardonyx, and spinel. These stones run the gamut of colors from bright green to orange to blood red. Their colors are not the only factor that differentiates these beautiful gemstones. Their history, meaning, and symbolism make them unique and desirable. Which of these August stones is your favorite?
Birthstones by Month
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