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The August Birthstone

Peridot or chysolite gems by Igor Kaliuzhny
© Igor Kaliuzhny | Dreamstime

Birthstones date back as early as the first century AD, when the Jewish historian Josephus made a record of Aaron from the Book of Exodus wearing a breastplate decorated by twelve stones. These stores were described as representing the twelve months of the year or the twelve signs of the zodiac, depending on which record or translation you study, but there cannot be any doubt that today's tradition of wearing a particular stone in celebration of the month of your birth owes its origins to these Biblical customs.

The tradition of using certain stones in jewelry in honor of the months of the year can be traced to the Fifteenth Century. But there was no clear pattern until an American organization, the National Association of Jewelers, met in 1912 and formalized a list. It was modified in 1952 and again in 2016, but most of the basic colors of stones have stayed the same for more than 100 years, even as new (less expensive) stones were added to the mix. 

We'll be exploring the properties and traditions of each stone monthly on Facet, and we begin with AUGUST.

Natural peridot by Green_cat
© Green_cat | Dreamtime
Peridot by Ingemar Magnusson
© Ingemar Magnusson | Dreamstime

Peridot, a striking olive-green gemstone, is mined all over the world. In the US, it can be found in Arkansas, Arizona (on the San Carlos Reservation), Hawaii, Nevada, and New Mexico (at Kilbourne Hole). Around the world, there are deposits in Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.

The stone can be varying shades of green, depending on the percentage of iron ore found in the particular deposit. It can be as pale as yellow, or as dark as a brownish-green. It belongs to the Olivine family of gemstones and can be found in lava or occasionally in meteorites. 

It has a Mohs scale of 6.5-7, meaning that it is quite hard, and when cut and polished, is very clear and glassy in appearance. It can be confused with emeralds, although peridot is far more common (and less expensive!)

Some of the healing properties associated with peridot include a protection against evil, and especially against nightmares. It is said that babies born in August are lucky to be guarded by peridot’s good fortune. Success, good fortune and loyalty are also ascribed to the sparkling stone. 

Sardonyx by Richpav
© Richpav | Dreamstime
Sardonyx by Vlad3563
© Vlad3563 | Dreamstime

In the UK and other parts of the world, Sardonyx is also considered a birthstone for August. This member of the Onyx family is reddish-striped in appearance. 

It is mined in India, Brazil, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Madagascar, Uruguay and the United States, and measures 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Sardonyx is often carved into cameos to showcase the different layers of color. Like peridot, it has been considered a stone of strength and protection since ancient times. If you place it at the corners of your house, it is said to ward off evil.

We don't have any Sardonyx projects on Facet (yet!), but we've rounded up some of the best peridot projects for you here.

Peridot bib necklace
This Peridot bib necklace by Jane Konkel takes some time to string, but you’ll love the results. Simple earrings, like these bird dangles, add just the right accent.
Kelsey Lawler created this simple necklace. The gold focal piece is perfect, since green and gold look lovely together.
Rethinking green
What’s old is new again as Naomi Fujimoto reinvents colors from the past. In this necklace, 1970s avocado reemerges as a more intense hue of parrot green. The overall design is delicate and deceptively simple, with peridot briolettes sprinkled along brilliant strands of tiny, gold seed beads.
Spring in Wisconsin
Sarah Savage’s design may have been inspired by the green grass of May, but anyone with an August birthday would love to show off these strands!
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