08. August Birthstones - Peridot and Sardonyx

08. August Birthstones - Peridot and Sardonyx
Peridot is the modern birthstone for the month of August. This yellowish-green jewel is actually the transparent, gem quality version of the mineral Olivine. Olivine is an abundant mineral, but in comparison, gem quality Peridot is relatively rare.

Geologists believe that Peridot is formed on rocks floating in the earth’s mantle approximately 20 to 55 miles below the surface. They need an extremely high temperature to crystallize, which happens as the gems are brought to the surface of the earth during a volcanic eruption.

The intensity and tint of the green in each gem depends on how much iron it contains. The lower the iron contents of the Peridot, the more beautiful the color. The most valuable color is considered to be a dark-olive green. Any brown in the color or visible inclusion in the stone lessens its value.

Nickel and chromium are also found in this gem as trace elements, so if you have an allergy to nickel, be careful not to wear this gem against your skin. Because of its high mineral content, it is prone to inclusions and difficult to find larger clean Peridot gems. Larger sized stones will be higher priced as in other top quality colored gems.

The history of Peridot can be traced back four thousand years where it was written about in the Bible under the Hebrew name of ‘pitdah’. Egyptians held it in high regard as a symbol of nature and strength, calling it the gem of the sun. When Hawaiian natives discovered Peridot crystals in the black sand, they called them tears of Pele, the volcano goddess.

Up until the 18th century, peridot was known as topaz. It was then renamed by the French, derived from the word ‘peritot’, meaning unclear or possibly from the Arabic word ‘faridat’, which means gem.

Many believe that Peridot is a symbol of vitality from nature that signifies strength and that the wearer of peridot will enjoy happiness in marriage and both emotional and physical confidence.

Sardonyx is the traditional August Birthstone. It is an opaque mineral from the very large quartz family and more specifically, it is an onyx. While black onyx has black bands that are often hard to detect because they are all black, the layered colored bands of Sardonyx are shades of white and red. The name Sardonyx comes from the Greek word Sard meaning reddish brown.

Even though Sardonyx is not an expensive gem, it has been popular through the ages. Egyptians wore it as an amulet to guard against illness and harm. The stone was found in an archaeological dig at Knossos, Crete among the artwork of the Minoan civilization. It has often been used by many cultures for carving cameos. The image of the person would be carved into a white band with a colored band as the background. Roman soldiers would carve images of their heroes and gods in the hopes that by wearing their likeness they would assume their qualities.

Sardonyx is considered to offer protection and strength to its wearer. A gift of this stone is symbolic of a committed and happy relationship.

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