August is one of only three months of the year that has three birthstones! They are peridot, spinel, and sardonyx.
Peridot is the most common birthstone associated with August, and has a very interesting history. It is one of the oldest known gemstones, with ancient records documenting the mining of peridot as early as 1500 B.C. The main source of peridot in the ancient world was an island in the Egyptian Red Sea, and some historians believe that Cleopatra's famous emeralds were actually peridots.
Peridot's formation is also different from that of almost all other gems. Most gems are formed in the Earth's crust. The two exceptions are peridot and diamond, which are formed much deeper in the Earth; in the mantle. Peridot forms in magma in the upper mantle, about 20 to 55 miles deep. It is brought to the surface by tectonic or volcanic activity. Diamond, by contrast, is formed much deeper in the mantle, around 100 to 150 miles below the surface, under extreme pressure and high temperatures.
Peridot was used anciently as a talisman and has a mystical reputation. It was believed to dissolve enchantments, ward off anxiety, and cure asthma. It was considered most powerful when set in gold.
Spinel is an incredibly beautiful gemstone which has spent most of its history being confused for ruby or sapphire. Some of the most famous rubies in the world, including the Timur Ruby and the Black Prince's Ruby in the crown jewels of England, have actually turned out to be spinels. Spinel is now a gemstone that is treasured for its own beauty, its wonderful brilliance, hardness, and wonderful range of spectacular colors. One member of the spinel group, magnetite, even has magnetic properties. As early as the 11th century, mariners used this form of spinel to magnetize their compasses. We have two stunning spinel pieces in our store right now, perfect for an August baby likes a gemstone that's off the beaten path.
Sardonyx is the last and most obscure of the August birthstones, although it was the original birthstone for August before the other two came along. 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.
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.