Your Everything Guide to August’s Birthstones

Your Everything Guide to August’s Birthstones
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Photo: Getty Images/STYLECASTER

Why it is that certain months have multiple birthstones while others are assigned only one is a somewhat complicated question: According to the powers that be (that is, the Jewelers of America), additions are tacked on to their official list in order to “[recognize] the importance of historically significant gemstones and [give] gemstone lovers a choice that suits their preferences.” It also can’t hurt that giving a stone special significance for 1/12th of the population gives it a good shot at a sales boost.

August, which (eek!) kicks off today, has three birthstones, depending on whom you consult: peridot, sardonyx, and spinel. Peridot, the most commonly recognized of the three, is a brilliant green stone formed deep beneath the earth’s crust in the upper mantle, similar to diamonds. It’s brought to the earth’s surface through volcanoes or tectonic plate shifts and is mined in Saint John’s Island off the coast of Egypt, Australia, Myanmar, and locally in Arizona, Hawaii, and New Mexico. Its name derives from the Arabic word for gem, faridat, and it’s said to have healing properties that can rid the wearer of nightmares, increase strength, and ward off anxiety.

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Sardonyx, meanwhile, is a form of onyx known for its reddish-brown hue banded with white. It’s a popular choice for cameos (so fans of vintage jewelry would be wise to look on Etsy and eBay for antique pieces) and was carried into battle by ancient Greeks and Romans in the form of heroic talismans with carved images of Mars and Hercules.

Just this year, Jewelers of America announced that spinel, too, would be recognized as an official August birthstone. “Ancient gemstone merchants revered spinel, and it was widely sought after by royalty,” said American Gem Trade Association CEO Doug Hucker. “It was then known as ‘balas ruby.’ It wasn’t until the late 18th century that we developed the technology acumen necessary to distinguish spinel as a separate mineral from ruby.”

Despite the ruby association, spinel isn’t only found in red hues: You’ll find black, pink, purple, and orange varieties of the mineral as well, in a wide range of cuts, thanks to its relative hardness compared to other semiprecious stones.

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Ahead, shop necklaces, rings, bracelets, and more featuring each of the three gems (starting at just $68, too!), and click here for our guide to July’s birthstone, ruby.

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Peridot Pop Chain Ring, $95; at Mejuri

Ollie Black Spinel & White Topaz Bib Pendant Necklace, $135 (was $225); at Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th

Baby Garnet Rondel and Peridot Necklace, $182; at Wendy Mink Jewelry

Beam Ring, $270; at Pamela Love

Mini Wishbone Earrings with Peridot, $225; at Melissa Joy Manning

Marie Helene De Taillac Spinel Safety Pin, $4,245; at Farfetch

Antique Victorian 14K Rose Gold Sardonyx Ring, $350; at Etsy

Sydney Evan Black Spinel Lariat Necklace, $1,190; at Bergdorf Goodman

Customizable Spiral Ring No. 1, $135; at Shahla Karimi

Astley Clarke Multicolor Black Spinel Star Biography Pin, $68; at Lyst

Delfina Delettrez Peridot, Topaz, and Yellow Gold Ring, $1,117; at Matches Fashion

Birthstone Charm Ring, $330; at Ariel Gordon

Brown Sardonyx and Gold Skull Wrap Bracelet, $295; at Chan Luu

Bracelet with Peridot and Diamonds in 18K Gold, $1,100; at David Yurman

Amedeo Sardonyx Angel Cameo Ring, $1,910; at Neiman Marcus

Black Spinel Rondelle Anklet, $390; at Jacquie Aiche

Bea Cocktail Ring, $500; at Anna Sheffield

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What the Zodiac Has in Store for You This Month

What the Zodiac Has in Store
for You This Month