Happy Birthstones, August!

Happy Birthstones, August!

According to the American Gem Society there are only 3 birthstones for the month of August: peridot, sardonyx, and recently added spinel.  But looking at historic and world calendars, there are as many as 10 birthstones for this lucky month!  You may notice that some of the stones listed here are more commonly associated with other months. Remember that many birth stones originated through color rather than the stone itself, and some originated through astrological signs with overlap different months. And our stone choices stem from a variety of historical sources. That leaves us with so many to choose from!


The modern birthstone for August in England as well as the U.S. is commonly accepted as peridot.  This stone was previously known as chrysolite, and was originally the primary zodiac stone for Libra, which falls partly in the month of September.  Well, close to August!  Peridot is a transparent olive to lime green stone, sometimes confused with emerald, however the color is very different.  Peridot has been prized by civilzations for centuries.  The ancient Egyptians called it the gem of the sun, and it is believed to have been one of Cleopatra’s favorites.  It is believed to have been on the breastplate of Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews (these stones being the origin of the stones of the zodiac).  Peridots were popular among Greeks and Romans as a sign of dignity, and during the Middle Ages they were used to ward off evil spirits.  But just as a stone of great beauty, peridot has held a place of importance throughout ages, being found ornamenting great churches, royal crown jewels and museum collections. 

So, judging from peridot, one would believe the color of August birthstone to be light green.  Not so!  The alternate birthstone for August in Britain is sardonyx, which is the August birthstone in the old Polish and Arabic calendars.  In the old Roman, Italian and Hebrew calendars, carnelian is the August birthstone.  Both of these stones have a predominantly red color!  Ruby is the August birthstone in the Hindu calendar (red), and alexandrite, which is sometimes red, is the August birthstone in the Russian calendar.  So it would seem that red is the actual birthstone color for the month of August! 

 Or is it?  Other stones that occasionally pop up among August birthstones are sardonyx, diamond, moonstone, topaz and sapphire.  The first three of these are white.  Topaz and sapphire appear in various colors, but again, the common color is white.

 It appears that August birthdays have quite a wide range of choices!


Sardonyx is a lovely alternative to peridot.  Sardonyx combines alternating layers of sard and onyx - two types of the layered mineral chalcedony - to create a reddish zebra-striped gemstone with white bands. Its name, similarly, combines sard (referencing the ancient Persian city, Sardis, in present-day Turkey, where the red stone was found) with onyx (from the Greek word of the same spelling, which meant “nail or claw.”) Sard ranges in color from yellowish-red to reddish-brown, depending on how much iron oxide is present. Sard is easily confused with carnelian, another type of chalcedony that is slightly softer and lighter in color. Sardonyx, like onyx, shows layers of parallel bands, instead of the chaotic, curved bands that compose agate, another type of chalcedony.


A recent addition by the American Gem Society to the August lineup is the spinel.  Spinel comes in a variety of colors and is called the great imposter of the gem world, often confused for ruby or sapphire.  But it has a different crystalline structure than the more valuable stones, and a lower MOHs hardness rating.  Vivid red is the most valuable of the spinel colors, followed by cobalt blue, bright pink, bright orange, then on down to paler colors like lavender, mauve, yellow, even brown and black.  There is a magnetic form of spinel, magnetite, that has been used as lodestone to magnetize compasses.


Carnelian is another traditional birthstone for August, and was the August birthstone in the old Roman, Italian and Hebrew calendars. Before the gemstone became the birthstone of August in these ancient calendars, carnelian was a zodiac stone for both Virgo and Leo, the two zodiac signs falling partly in the month of August. Both carnelian and sard are varieties of the silica mineral chalcedony colored by impurities of iron oxide. The color can vary greatly, ranging from pale orange to an intense almost-black coloration. Carnelian is so close to sard in characteristics that the two are often confused. 

Alexandrite is the birthstone for August in the old Russian calendar, where it was first found. Often described by gem aficionados as “emerald by day, ruby by night,” alexandrite is the very rare color-change variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. Crystals of chrysoberyl from Russia are known to shift from a shade of green during the day to a reddish hue at night.  

Ruby is the birthstone for August in the Hindu calendar. This August birthstone is the red variety of corundum, which would be otherwise called sapphire if occurring in another color.   Along with amethyst, sapphire, emerald and diamond, ruby is considered a cardinal gem, those traditionally considered most precious. Ruby was believed by ancient Hindus to protect the wearer from evil.  For centuries and still today the deep red color signifies love, passion, promise and success. 


Before ruby was the birthstone for August in the Hindu calendar, sapphire was the August birthstone in the old Hindu, also known as Ayurvedic calendar. Also a cardinal gem, this August gemstone is corundum occurring in a variety of colors except red, which would be called ruby, but is most popular for its deep blue crystals. Blue sapphire is specifically identified to be a zodiac stone for Virgo, which falls partly in the month of August.  Sapphire comes in a number of colors, (including pink, but not red, which would be ruby!), and each color has its own particular properties. 

Diamond is the birthstone for August in the old Tibetan calendar. Probably the most popular of the cardinal gems, this August birthstone is most popular for its bright white crystals, though the gemstone occurs in a great variety of colors.  Diamond is a solid form of carbon formed under extreme pressure and temperature deep within the earth. It is the hardest naturally occurring substance.

Moonstone is another traditional birthstone for August. This August birthstone is a soft, milky-colored stone in the feldspar group of minerals from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and India. Color and light shift within the gem's iridescence, making it appear as if the stone is fluid or watery and glowing from within. 

Topaz is still another gemstone recorded to be a traditional birthstone for August. White topaz is a colorless variety of topaz, a silicate mineral that exists in a lot of different colors. In fact, in its purest form, topaz is actually transparent, and the hues of its colored varieties result from impurities present in the mineral. Topaz is an abundant mineral and in its clear form makes an inexpensive but lovely alternative to diamonds.


So lucky you, August babies! Time to get your jewelry on! You have oh so many choices!



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.