August is another month that now features 3 different birthstones: Peridot, Sardonyx, and the recently added Spinel. All three have interesting histories!




    Peridot is the most widely popular birthstone for August and was known to the Egyptians as “the gem of the sun”, mined in the second millennium BC on the island of “Topazios” in the Red Sea. Peridot was first recorded in Hawaiian creation myths and referred to as the “tears of Madame Pele”, the goddess of volcanoes and creator of the Hawaiian Islands.

    Peridot is named for the Arabic word “faridat” which means “gem”, and has been found in meteorites and comet dust! This gemstone has been believed to protect the wearer from evil spirits if the gemstone was pierced, strung on the hair of a donkey, and worn on the left arm. It has also been known to rid the wearer of negativity and to be an aide in friendship. Peridots are primarily sourced from the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, as well as being found in Hawaii, Myanmar, Pakistan, Madagascar, Germany, and other places.

    It is a fairly durable gemstone that can be worn safely in earrings and pendants without worry. If worn in rings, the wearer should exercise a bit more caution as Peridot rates a 6.5-7 on the Mohs hardness scale. Peridots should never be put in an ultrasonic cleaner or cleaned with a steamer–using mild soap and water with a soft brush is best. My favorite thing about Peridots (other than the fact that it is my daughter’s birthstone) is their “lily pad” inclusions that you can see under magnification.


    Sardonyx is a form of microcrystalline quartz and is commonly seen as a banded agate with parallel, layered bands of reddish-brown and white. Popular for centuries, examples of Sardonyx jewelry have been found dating back to Egypt’s Second Dynasty more than 4,000 years ago. One of the most popular uses for Sardonyx is in the carving of cameos, some of which have been traced back as far as the Greek and Roman Empires. The reddish-brown layer would often be the background, and the white layer would be intricately carved with figures.

    Greek and Roman warriors would wear Sardonyx cameos depicting Mars and Hercules, believing the images would grant them courage and protection in battle. Sardonyx was also used widely in signet rings with carved emblems and used to imprint wax seals on official documents, as wax does not stick to it. The best source for fine Sardonyx is India, where the Sardonyx shows the sharpest contrasts between the layers. Measuring a 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, it can be safely worn in pendants, brooches, and earrings on a daily basis. As with Peridots, I would use caution in wearing a Sardonyx ring on a daily basis, and I would clean them in the same way as Peridots.


    Spinel is a relatively new birthstone for August, joining Peridot and Sardonyx in 2016. However, Spinel has been a well-known gemstone since the 11th Century. Coming in a vast array of colors such as red, orange, hot-pink, cobalt blue, and violet, they have a history of being mistaken (or substituted) for Rubies and Sapphires. However, unlike Rubies and Sapphires, Spinels are generally all-natural, not enhanced, and often flawless. It is a favorite with gem dealers and collectors. It is also one of the few gemstones that have a blue color that is natural.

    Some of the world’s most widely known historical Rubies have actually turned out to be Spinels, such as the “Black Prince’s Ruby” and the “Timur Ruby” in England’s Crown Jewels. Perhaps when these items were being made, there wasn’t as much of a concern as to whether or not it was a Ruby or a Spinel as long as it was “red”. In fact, Rubies hadn’t become valuable until the 18th Century and many English monarchs had prized Spinel gemstones in their collections. To add a Spinel to your jewelry collection, I would look for one that has an intense hue–something neither too light nor too dark. Spinel measures an 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, so it is perfect for everyday wear in rings as well as other jewelry.

    Spinel is mined in Tanzania, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan and the supply is limited. It has a beautiful sparkle and many colors to choose from and can be easily cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner.

    Interested in more August birthstone inspiration? Check out my recent Pinterest board by clicking the image below!    

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    Ruby is the birthstone for July, and it is one of the most well-loved gemstones throughout history. The name “ruby” is derived from the Latin word “ruber”, or red. Rubies get their color from chromium, a trace element found in the mineral corundum. The more chromium present in the ruby, the more vibrant the red color.

    While exceptionally fine rubies are some of the most expensive gemstones, rubies are routinely subjected to different treatments to enhance their beauty. The most common, stable, and widely accepted treatment in the jewelry trade is heat treatment. This treatment is done to minimize the “silk” inside the gemstone, which are the tiny needle-shaped inclusions within the stone that can cause a lighter, more translucent to opaque appearance.

    Before you buy a ruby, please ask your jeweler if it has been treated and by what method. Other treatments such as fracture-filling with glass, lattice diffusion, and dyeing are common treatments for lower-quality material which is often less durable in general.

    Called the most precious of the 12 stones created by God, the ruby is a symbol of passion and love. The ruby was believed to protect warriors who would wear them on their armor or embedded in their skin, and if you dreamed of rubies it was a sign of good luck.


    The Hindus referred to the ruby as the “King of Gems“, and “that those who offered fine rubies to the god Krishna were granted rebirth as emperors.

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    Each of these beautiful gems has an unusual history, with Alexandrite being the youngest. Alexandrites were discovered in the 1830s in Russia’s Ural Mountains. These gems are a form of the mineral chrysoberyl and were named for Alexander II, the heir apparent to Russia. Alexandrites will change color under different lighting, from a deep red to purplish-red under incandescent light to a bright green to blueish green under fluorescent light or daylight. The gemstone became quite popular in Russia due to the fact that the imperial military’s colors were red and green. Alexandrites are now found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa. The mines in the Ural Mountains were known for the most distinct color-change, but have unfortunately been mined out. Because of the fine quality pieces being so scarce, Alexandrites can often command a price higher than the price of diamonds. Their hardness is rated an 8.5 on the Moh’s scale of 1-10. This means that they can be safely worn in rings on a daily basis, and can be easily cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner.


    Pearls are one of the most loved gemstones in history. Legend has it that pearls would drop from Heaven when dragons fought. They symbolize marital bliss, protection for children, and were thought to be the tears of the gods.

    To understand how precious pearls are, you have to understand how pearls are formed. The GIA explains this beautifully: “Pearls are organic gems that grow inside the tissue of living saltwater or freshwater mollusk (either an oyster or a mussel). Natural pearls form when the mollusk secretes a substance called nacre around an irritant such as a piece of sand or a parasite that has invaded its shell. Cultured pearls are a product of human intervention. Technicians implant a piece of mantle tissue alone (common for freshwater cultured pearls) or with a mother-of-pearl shell bead (all saltwater) into a host mollusk. The mollusk covers the irritant with nacre, just like a natural pearl. Cultured pearls are raised in pearl farms – saltwater or freshwater operations where the mollusks are cleaned, protected from predators, and eventually harvested.” Before the cultured pearl production started in the 1900s, pearls were extremely rare and expensive.

    There are collectors who prefer natural pearls, which are pearls that have had no human interference. However, with cultured pearls, pearl lovers can adorn themselves for a relatively modest cost. To take care of your pearls, one thing to remember is that pearls should be the last thing that you put on and the first thing that you take off. No hairspray, perfumes, lotion, or makeup should come in contact with the pearls. Remember to not store them in a closed plastic bag, and to clean your pearls simply wipe them down with a soft cloth after wearing.


    Moonstones are the most widely know gemstone of the feldspar minerals, with a beautiful blue glow on a clear or white background. They were once thought to be made of solidified moonbeams, and to ensure abundant crops. If held in the mouth during a full moon, a moonstone could tell the future. Known for their beautiful “adularescence”, which describes the light that moves across the gemstone, Moonstones were a popular gemstone during the Art Nouveau period. Most often seen in cabochon form, they come in a variety of colors. The durability of moonstones is 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale of 1- 10, which means that while they can be worn in rings, they can show scratches and abrasions with everyday wear. They are best cleaned with soap and water and a soft brush, not with an ultrasonic cleaner. Perfect for drop earrings that catch the light and show off the beautiful blue sheen!


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