Lapidary EXCLUSIVE : august birthstones by Bailey WATT

Contrary to popular belief,Peridot is not the only birthstone for the month of August. Alongside this lime colored gemstone,the two that shine in their own firey light are Spinel and Sardonyx.

Originally, Sardonyx took the crown as the only birthstone for August,however that was more than 3,500 years ago. Spinel is the most recently added gem to the small list of this months trifecta of birthstones and has given many a more affordable alternatives to sapphires as well as rubies,for spinels were mistaken for rubies as well as sapphires for centuries.


Peridot holds it own though,regarding it's ancient history as well..

Throughout history, peridot has often been confused with other gems such as topaz and emerald. The Red Sea island of Topazios, a purported source of the name “topaz,” actually produced peridot. The Shrine of the Three Holy Kings in Germany’s Cologne Cathedral is decorated with 200 carats of gems that were believed to be emeralds but are, in fact, the August birthstone peridot. Some historians even speculate that Cleopatra’s famous emerald collection may have been comprised of peridot. [GIA]

Peridot is a beautiful gemstone the yellowish green to greenish yellow gem variety of the mineral olivine. This August birthstone has also come to Earth via pallasite

(made of nickel-iron and olivine) meteorites. Very rarely are the peridots gemstone quality.

Arizona is the main source of this August birthstone in the United States. Massive volcanic eruptions many thousands of years ago sent rivers of lava spilling across the desert landscape of what is today the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, where some Apache families have worked the mines for decades.Myanmar (formerly Burma) is another important source of the peridot birthstone. On the northern slope of Kyaukpon, a mountainous region near the gem city of Mogok, loose peridot crystals can sometimes be found in crevices. The finest-quality peridot from this locality has deep color and superb transparency.The Egyptian island of Zabargad (the name now given to Topazios) is the oldest recorded source of this August birthstone. Mining may have begun around 340–279 BCE. Although the island produced beautiful peridot, its harsh conditions earned it ominous names like Island of Death and Ophiodes (“snake island”). Peridot from Zabargad has been prized for centuries and is still highly desirable. The finest specimens of this birthstone for August can be found in prestigious museums around the world. [GIA]

This August birthstone can also be damaged by some acids and even by long-term exposure to acidic perspiration. Cleaning peridot is a delicate process. Never use a steam or ultrasonic cleaner, as your peridot birthstone is vulnerable to thermal shock. It is safest to use a s0ft-bristle brush with a mild dish soap in warm water. Peridot should be stored with care to avoid scratching by gems with greater hardness.With peridot being softer than many gemstones,at a hardness of 6.5 to 7, it isn't recommended for daily use in a ring,meaing it isn't ideal for engagment rings. However, it does look amazing in a ring and if handled with care,can become a family heirloom one day.


Below is a example of a heirloom ring,from the Art Deco movement in the decorative arts and architecture that originated in the 1920s and developed into a major style in western Europe and the United States during the 1930s.,100 years ago.


We also have peridot facets in stock,here in our onsite Lapidary at Emerald Hollow Mine,that are ready to be set into your own airloom piece,like the facets below. They can be set together,as show below,or seperate,for a ring/pendant.



Or perhaps this already made pendant,with diamond accents,we have in shop could take the title for a family heirloom?


If the color of peridot isn't your favorite and you are still looking for a birthstone for yourself or someone you know,who were born in August,you are in luck! Spinel is the newest addition to the small collection of birthstones that this month has to offer. It also comes in any color you can think of and we have some already set,ready to be worn out the door. If you want a spinel in a different setting,we also have some loose cabochons that would look great in any piece of jewelry,especially earrings and rings!


History of Spinel:


The Spinel Mines of Central and Southeast Asia yielded large spinel crystals known as Balas rubies, which became valuable property of emperors and kings. They were often passed along as the spoils of war. As mentioned above,spinel was mistaken for the notable rubies and sapphires of the past. Included in this mistake, are some of the most famous rubies in history have turned out to be just spinel. Large red gems, such as the “Black Prince’s Ruby” and the “Timur Ruby” in the Crown Jewels of England were confirmed to be large red spinels. Many English monarchs, including Henry VIII, had prized spinel gemstones.

One member of the spinel group, magnetite, has magnetic properties. As early as the 11th century, mariners used this form of spinel known as lodestone to magnetize their compasses. [AGS]

The earliest red spinels, used as jewels were found in Buddhist tombs in Kabul in Afghanistan and date back to approximately 100 B.C. Red spinels were also frequently used by the ancient Romans as early as the first century B.C. The Romans brought examples of blue and green spinel into England, during their occupation, which date back to 51 B.C.

The actual mining of spinel began in Afghanistan between 750 and 950 A.D., documented by Marco Polo.

Red spinels have always been favored and have the most dramatic history. In Moscow, a 412.25 carat dark red spinel is the centerpiece for the Great Imperial Crown commissioned for the coronation of Catherine the Great,as seen below.

Red spinels were used frequently in the Renaissance and became quite fashionable in the 18th Century. The largest collection of spinels, which includes a 500-carat gem, is part of the collection of the Royal Crown Jewels of Iran [see below].



Is this gemstone intriquing to you yet? Well you are in luck because here in the EHM Lapidary we have some spinels that are afforable and just as beautiful,if not more vibrant and in a variety of colors. Below are some of our favorite hues of spinel as well as some of our favorite settings. These rings,necklace and loose facets will be online within the month of August,so stay tuned to be the first to snag them when they are posted for sale!




If you have a color preference or find a peridot or spinel suited to your liking,within our listings, please reach out to us and we will make sure you get the gemstone made for you!


Feel free to visit www.ehmlapidary.com for updates on jewelry or give us a call at 828-635-7548