August Birthstone(s): Peridot and Sardonxy August 05 2014
People born in August have two very different birthstones they can choose from, Peridot and Sardonyx. Though they differ in almost every way, both come with interesting origins.
Peridot is a gem-quality form of the mineral olivine, and it appears in green hues ranging from olive to bright lime. There is a small island in the Red Sea called Zabargad that has been mined for Peridot for thousands of years; it is a desolate island where hardly anything grows, though it is riddled with Peridot deposits. Some of the beaches near the deposits even have a green tint due to the amount of the gems in the sand. While this is the largest site for mining them, Peridot can also be found in countries like Brazil, Burma, Norway, Mexico, and even the United States. In ancient times it was believed to bring royal dignity to its wearer and also to ward off evil spirits. Turkish sultans in the Ottoman Empire are said to have gathered the largest collection in the world, and they are primarily used in royal decoration.
Sardonyx looks nothing like the Peridot; it is part of the chalcedony family, and it is comprised of many layers of quartz fiber that give it a banded look in many varieties of colors. This type of stone is very popular and practical for the use of carving cameos and intaglios not only because of its physical properties but also because it is inexpensive. Its place in history is among more common folk rather than royalty, though the most famous Sardonyx was carved with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. The Queen gave it as a token of friendship to the Earl of Essex and told him that she would always be there to help if it was needed. Coincidentally, he was imprisoned for treason and when he tried to send the ring to the Queen as a sign for help, it was intercepted by an enemy of the Earl. Unfortunately, the Queen believed he was too proud to ask for help and he was beheaded—she learned after his death of what had happened.
While we do not have any Sardonyx currently in our case, we have an abundance of beautiful pieces featuring brightly colored Peridots. Pictured below are matching round Peridots and one oblong, cushion-cut.
Pictured below is Sardonyx in its natural, uncut form (photo from Wikipedia).