Spinel is a gemstone that has often been confused with ruby. One of August’s birthstones, spinel can come in a variety of colors, including red, black, blue, green, and purple. It can also appear colorless.
Spinel can be found in deposits around the world. However, in ancient times, Southeast Asia produced very large formations of the gemstone. Red spinel is often called “flame spinel.” Two of these large, red gems are in the English crown jewels. Known as the “Black Prince’s Ruby” and the “Timur Ruby,” it was later discovered that they were spinels.
According to legend, spinel can help revitalize and bring energy to the owner. It is said to lower anxiety and stress. Along these lines, it’s also believed to encourage new ways of thinking and promote the fortitude to get through challenges in life.
In the mystic realm, some have felt that spinel helps communicate with higher powers. They say it improves intuition and clarity and balances emotions.
Magnetite is a type of spinel that has magnetic properties. As early as the 11th century, mariners used this form of spinel—known as lodestone—to magnetize their compasses.
Those who believe in crystal healing feel that magnetite helps align currents in the body. They also believe it can balance mood swings and polarities, such as physical and spiritual, and the two brain hemispheres.
Sardonyx combines alternating layers of sard and onyx to create a reddish zebra-striped gemstone with white bands. It is one of three of August’s birthstones.
Used as a stone of strength and protection in ancient times, sardonyx is associated with courage, happiness, and clear communication. Ancients believed that placing a sardonyx gemstone at each corner of a house would grant protection against evil.
Amulets and talismans made of sardonyx were thought to give the wearer a boost of energy. Ancient Romans would carve Mars—the god of war—or Hercules into the gemstone to promote courage.
Sardonyx was used in the Middle Ages to counteract the supposedly negative effects of onyx. It was believed that the latter gemstone brought out anxiety, sadness, and anger—and even demons. They felt sardonyx could balance it out.
Religious texts also reference sardonyx. For example, it’s used as the first foundation stone in the walls of New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation.
Legend has it that sardonyx can help with depression, willpower, and confidence. It can help one find integrity, meaning, and happiness. Those who practice yoga have found it helps with meditation.
Peridot—one of three August birthstones—is a lime green stone that has many links to nature. It has often been confused with topaz and emerald.
Legends have connected this gemstone to the sun, believing that it brought energy and happiness to the owner. In Oahu, Hawaii, small pieces of peridot wash onshore near volcanic areas. This gemstone is made of olivine, which is found in lava rocks. Ancient Hawaiian folklore told stories of the gems being tears from the goddess of elements, Pele. In fact, sometimes when it rained, the gemstones will fall from the sky.
In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra loved peridot for its beauty. She also believed it could keep dark, evil spirits away. Egyptian priests believed that it harnessed the power of nature, so they used goblets encrusted with peridot to commune with their nature gods.
In ancient times, people believed that peridot was brought to our world by a sun’s explosion—and they weren’t far off. Some peridot crystals have been found in rare pallasite meteorites that are 4.5 billion years old.
German occult writer Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa said in the early 1500s if you held peridot to the sun, a golden star would shine from it to heal any respiratory ailments. Apothecary shops kept the gemstone in powdered form to use as an antidote to insomnia, bleeding, madness, and nightmares. It was also believed to help with a range of other things, from improving memory to easing labor and birth.
For thousands of years, peridot beads and talismans were worn for protection and to promote love, happiness, and wealth. When paired with gold, they believed the effects intensified.
Spinel is an oxide mineral that crystallizes in the cubic structure and has quite the mixed-up history.
As of 2016, it is also the newest birthstone to be added to the birthstone list! August babies now have a choice between vivid peridot and alluring spinel.
The word “spinel” comes from the Latin word Spinella, which means “little thorn” or “arrow-shaped.” Spinel gems come in a wide range of colors and saturations, though perhaps the most famous (and mistakenly infamous) is the red variety.
In ancient cultures, red spinel was always grouped together with rubies, and sometimes garnets, since the rough (and even polished and cut) crystals look so similar. In the modern age, the gems can be separated, but much of spinel’s history is tied up in the lore of rubies.
The oldest known spinel dates back to 100 B.C. and was found in Kabul, Afghanistan, inside a Buddhist temple. Red and blue spinels were also being used in crafting by the Romans.
The most famous spinel is also the most famous example of mistaken identity in all of gemological history. A “ruby” known as the Black Prince’s Ruby is our culprit. It is a red gem set in the Imperial State Crown of the British crown jewels. The gemstone is uncut, but polished, and weighs approximately 170 carats. The gem has never been removed from its original setting, so the weight is only estimated.
This amazing gemstone, however, is no ruby. It is, in fact, a spinel.
The Black Prince was the son of Edward III, and reportedly received the gem from Don Pedro the Cruel, King of Castille as a reward. Legend has it that the spinel was one of the gems worn by Henry V on his helmet and that it deflected a fatal blow, saving his life during the Battle of Agincourt.
Whether true or not, the gem was thought to be ruby for many years, until technology and the knowledge of gems improved enough to separate gems on more than mere color.
This royal stone is not the only spinel in disguise. Empress Catherine II of Russia had a crown that bore an estimated 400-carat spinel. Likewise, Queen Victoria had a very dark red spinel called the Timur Ruby.
It doesn’t help matters when spinel and ruby often form together in the earth! In 1783, mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle finally separated spinel from ruby, realizing that the two minerals were completely different.
Further confusion arises with spinel’s true nature even now.
Many pieces of inexpensive birthstone jewelry have an imitation of the true birthstone: something that looks like—but isn’t—the real thing. The majority of these are made with synthetic spinel, grown in a laboratory rather than the ground, but boasting the same chemical make-up.
The natural gem is lovely, but many only know of its synthetic counterparts.
Each color of spinel is thought to provide different benefits to the wearer, from protection to enhancing creativity and kindness, to better cognitive abilities. Colorless spinel is rare, and no current mines exist that produce it.
The most common colors seen in jewelry are red and blue, with the hues ranging from highly saturated to perfectly pastel.
Other popular colors are yellows, purples, and pinks, although the gem comes in every color. Black spinel is found in many pieces, and once again, is often confused for other black gems like hematite, black diamond, and black onyx.
Black spinel and white sapphire pendant, by Dilamani.
Spinel is mined in many locations, including Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (formerly Bruma) Brazil, Sweden, Pakistan, and Russia, among others. It can even be found in the USA.
Additionally, small crystals have been found on meteorites, a trait spinel shares with the other August birthstone, peridot.
For a gemstone many have never heard of, it might be the most famous of all. It is the hidden star of the show, silently shining on as the world ignores it or mistakes it for another stone altogether.
Pink spinel and diamond drop earrings, by JB Star.
But spinel is worth a first, and second, glance. With spectacular colors, excellent durability and an amusing history, it’s the perfect addition to anyone’s gem and jewelry collection.
Spinel truly deserves the title: The Coolest Gem You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of!
Isabelle Corvin is an AGS Certified Gemologist (CG) who is the Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers. Since she was 14-years-old, she knew she wanted to be a gemologist. Ms. Corvin also writes for Panowicz Jewelers’ blog.
It’s been a year since spinel was added to August’s birthstone line up. Those celebrating a birthday during the eighth calendar month now have three gemstone choices: peridot, sardonyx, and spinel.
Blue spinel by Gem 2000.
For those who are still unfamiliar with spinel, it is often assumed to be other gemstones, like ruby or sapphire. Cobalt blue, like the one above, is one of the most desired colors. But it can be found in a variety of colors, such as the much coveted red, as well as black, violet blue, greenish blue, grayish, pale pink, mauve, yellow or brown. Spinel can also be found in various cuts, like octagons, trillions, squares, rounds and fancy shapes, like ovals, pears, and cushions.
No matter what the shape, spinel is spectacular! Take a look at these designs by our AGS members. Click on the images for a closer view.
The Kalmia bracelet by Yael Designs features opal cabochons accented with pink spinel.
Affinity bracelet by Coffin & Trout Fine Jewellers, featuring multi-colored spinel and round brilliant cut diamonds.
Emerald cut purple spinel, pink and white diamond ring by Omi Prive.
Peridot by Gem 2000.
The verdant peridot is the gemstone most commonly associated with August. Peridot’s recognizable green hue could sometimes vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish green, contingent on how much iron is present. Yet the finest peridot is a brilliant green without any hints of brown or yellow.
Our AGS members will help you find the perfect peridot for you! Click on the images for a closer view.
Hand-hammered Fiddlehead earrings by Ed Levin Jewelry featuring peridot in the center.
Peridot and sterling sliver ring by Michael Schofield & Co.
Oval checkerboard peridot and diamond neck piece by Parle.
Since as far back as Roman times, sardonyx has been highly valued as a stone representing strength, courage, happiness, and clear communication.
The unique reddish, zebra-striped banding of sardonyx stands out beautifully when the stone is smoothed, so it is often cut in cabochon and worn as beads or featured in an eye-catching pendant or ring.
Sardonyx makes a great gift for those born in August who want something a little different than the traditional birthstone. Readily available and relatively inexpensive, sardonyx makes an affordable addition to anyone’s collection.
We have a birthday present for those born in August: the spectacular spinel has been added to your month’s birthstone lineup! August now joins June and December as the only months represented by three gems. The original August birthstone was Sardonyx, and then peridot was added, becoming August’s primary gem. Without further ado, let’s welcome the spinel!
The spinel is often assumed to be other gemstones because it tends to resemble either a ruby or sapphire. In fact, some of the most famous rubies in history have turned out to be spinel. But its distinguishing features, like its octahedral crystal structure and single refraction, are what sets it apart from other gems. Spinel also has a lower Mohs hardness than ruby and sapphire.
Significant deposits of spinel have been found in Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It has also been found in Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Madagascar, Nepal, Nigeria, Tadzhikistan, Tanzania and the U.S.
Vivid red is the most desirable color of spinel gemstones, followed by cobalt blue, bright pink and bright orange. The more affordable stones are often those with paler colors, like lavender. You may also find spinel in black, violet blue, greenish blue, grayish, pale pink, mauve, yellow or brown. So many choices!
When shopping for spinel, a good quality stone should have no visible inclusions. The more inclusions, the less valuable the stone. Spinel can be found various cuts, like octagons, trillions, squares, rounds and fancy shapes, like ovals, pears, and cushions.
Below is a collection of designs featuring the newest August birthstone: the spectacular spinel!
AG Gems designed this ring featuring a natural purple spinel flanked by two natural half-moon cut violet spinels, set in 18k white gold, and accented by pink sapphires and diamonds.
Sterling Silver Classic Chain Medium Bracelet with pink spinel by John Hardy.
Omi Privé 18k yellow gold ring featuring a 3.27 carat oval spinel, round spinels, and round diamonds.
The signature green color of peridot comes from the composition of the mineral itself—rather than from trace impurities, as with many gems. That is why peridot is one of few stones that only comes in one color, though shades may vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish green, depending how much iron is present.
Most of the world’s peridot supply comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Other sources are China, Myanmar, Pakistan and Africa.
Also known as “the Evening Emerald” because its sparkling green hue looks brilliant any time of day, peridot is said to possess healing properties that protect against nightmares and evil, ensuring peace and happiness. Babies born in August are lucky to be guarded by peridot’s good fortune.
Peridot can be assessed with the same 4Cs criteria as diamonds—using Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat weight to determine value. The finest peridots have a lovely lime green hue without any hints of brown or yellow. Quality gems have no inclusions visible to the naked eye, though dark spots may be evident under a microscope. When you look closely, due to double refraction, you may see two of each facet on a peridot.
Whether you’re shopping for an August birthday or a 16th wedding anniversary, be sure to visit an AGS-certified jeweler. They will help you find the perfect peridot design, like those pictured below!
Whirl Peridot and Burnished Diamond Ring by Carelle.
Oxidized Sterling Silver and 24k Gold “Candy” Earring with Oval Peridot Cabochon, by Lika Behar Collection.
Erica Courtney presents 18k Yellow Gold “Chevron” Ring Featuring a 9.81ct Peridot, Accented with 1.04ctw diamonds.
Sardonyx combines alternating layers of sard and onyx—two types of the layered mineral chalcedony—to create a reddish zebra-striped stone with white bands.
Sard ranges in color from yellowish red to reddish brown, depending 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.
The finest examples of sardonyx, which display sharp contrasts between layers, are found in India. Other sources include Brazil, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Madagascar, Uruguay, and the United States.
Used as a stone of strength and protection since ancient times, sardonyx is associated with courage, happiness, and clear communication. Some believe that placing sardonyx at each corner of a house will grant protection against evil.
Sardonyx makes a great gift for people born in August who want something a little different than the traditional peridot birthstone. Readily available and relatively inexpensive, sardonyx makes an affordable addition to anyone’s collection.
The qualify factors of sardonyx are not as clearly defined as other gems like diamonds, so ask an AGS-certified jeweler for help selecting good stones. Generally, the 4Cs still apply.
Sardonyx is widely available and moderately priced in sizes up to 10 carats. The most common cut is cabochon, though it is popularly carved into cameos, intaglios, inlays and broaches to emphasize the contrast between layers.
Artificial and imitation sardonyx has been produced from common chalcedony and plain agate as far back as Roman times, according to writings from first-century naturalist, Pliny. Some gems are also stained with iron oxide pigment or treated with nitric acid to enhance color. These enhancements make stones less valuable than natural sardonyx, so watch for possible imitations when buying these gems.
Even though the American Gem Society is a professional organization dedicated to credentialing jewelers and consumer protection, we understand that one of the biggest reasons people give jewelry is to show their love. And we love…..well, love! So this blog is a celebration of romance, and lucky for us, August is National Romance month. So we thought we’d take the opportunity to celebrate Romance Awareness Month in all its glory, and hopefully inspire you to remember to add some romance to your life as well.
Ring by Hearts on Fire
The online dating site, Zoosk, conducted an annual Romance Awareness Survey. From the survey results, it should come as no surprise that 81% of women and 69% of men surveyed, believe that women are more romantic than men.
What MAY surprise you is that Valentine’s Day, at 19%, ranked lower on the romance scale than an anniversary, at 57%, and even a first date which came in at 24%. First impressions really do go a long way!
Jewelry from Supreme Jewelry
For the singles out there, you’re not alone. Most single people are completely underwhelmed by the amount of romance in their life. 73% of single men and 80% of single women surveyed say they are were unhappy in the romance department.
But couples aren’t completely satisfied either — see! The grass isn’t always greener as 60% of men and 66% of women say that they would not stay in a relationship with a partner they deemed was unromantic or not romantic enough.
So how can you add more romance to your life?
Well, for singles, the good news is that a lot of single people are looking for more romance in their lives. So if you’re considering approaching the lady checking out the produce at the grocery store, or standing behind you in line at the bank; smile and confidently say, “Hello.” Believe it or not, you feel more confident smiling (even on the telephone) than you do with a straight face. You’ll come across happier and don’t be surprised if a few other heads turn as well.
And don’t forget that best first date impression!
For couples, adding a little romance to your everyday life can actually be quite easy.
Romance experts suggest ideas as simple as:
A promise ring or other piece of fine jewelry, personalized for your partner
A simple compliment goes a long way. Tell your partner something you’ve secretly been admiring about them for a long time.
Send a romantic text in the middle of their mundane work day.
Plan a staycation! A weekend at home or in a local Bed & Breakfast, just the two of you.
Write a letter. Something so old-fashioned and simple can have lasting effects! For inspiration, check out some famous love letters written by well-known idols, click here.
Earrings by Ritani
Conclusively, Romance Awareness month offers you an opportunity to break from your romance rut and it’s a helpful reminder to show the one you love (even if it’s yourself!) how important adding a little romance to your life can be. Enjoy!
With tomorrow marking the first day of August, we’d like to wish all the August babies a happy birthday! You have two special birthstones associated with the month of August. Both of which are not only unique and beautiful, but very representative of power and courage. Read on to learn more about the birthstones of August, peridot and sardonyx.
Peridot is said to host magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares and to bring the wearer power, influence, and a wonderful year.
As peridot is a gemstone that forms deep inside the Earth and brought to the surface by volcanoes, in Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes.
Today, most of the peridot supply comes from Arizona; other sources are China, Myanmar, and Pakistan. This gemstone comes in several color variations ranging from yellowish green to brown, but most consumers are attracted to the bright lime greens and olive greens. Peridot, in smaller sizes, often is used in beaded necklaces and bracelets.
14K yellow gold, peridot and diamond earrings from Parlé Jewelry Design
Sardonyx is a form of onyx and is recognized by its layers of reddish brown and white banding.
It was popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans who carried into battle talismans of sardonyx engraved with images of heroes such as Mars or Hercules, believing that this would bring courage and victory.
Because of its attractive banding, sardonyx has long been used to fashion cameos (carved raised figures) and intaglios (the reverse of cameos). This gemstone is found throughout the world. The most attractive specimens are found in India, but material also is mined in Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, and in the United States.
14k yellow gold filigree ring circa 1950 from Stanley Jewelers Gemologist; Little Rock, AR
To all of those celebrating birthdays in August, we wish you a very happy birthday. And to everyone, we wish you a very happy August. If you’d like to learn more about any month’s birthstone, click here.