Traditionally, sardonyx was the birthstone for August. When the National Association of Jewelers in the US published a list of birthstones in 1912, peridot was added as an alternate stone for August. In 2016, the spinel was added. I am going to talk about the last two gemstones.

Beautiful green peridot

The peridot is a beautiful gemstone that comes in only one colour – green. The shade I like the best is a bright green, like the green of new leaves in Spring. It has been mined for over 3500 years on the island of Zabargad (now St John) in the Red Sea. Because it is a doubly refractive stone, it has a great depth of colour.

Snake ring set with a black spinel

Spinels on the other hand come in a range of colours, including black, blue, purple, and colourless. It is probably best known as a red stone as many of the famous historic jewels – the Timur Ruby, the Black Prince’s Ruby, large red stone set in Catherine the Great’s Imperial Crown – are actually red spinels. Rubies and spinels were often mined together and it was not until the 18th century that the gemmological nature of the two stones was identified.

Garnet and spinel earrings