spinel

August Birthstone: Peridot + Spinel

Happy Birthday, August babies! You’re one of the lucky ones – you have two gems recognized as your birthstone.

The traditional birthstone – and the gem of the 15th wedding anniversary- is peridot – an ancient, olive-green gem made of the mineral olivine. It’s legend lies in Egyption history, where it was called the “gem of the sun” and was thought to fight off night terrors.

peridot

Some peridot is cosmic. In 2005 the gem was found in comet dust brought back from the Stardust robotic space probe. It’s also been found in pallasite meteorites, remnants of the solar system’s beginnings.

In ancient Egypt, peridots were often confused as emeralds. Some historians believe that Cleopatra’s legendary emerald collection may have actually been peridot.

August’s second birthstone is spinel – a gem typically seen in pink or red but also more rarely orange, purple, blue, black. Spinel has been known as “the great imposter” because many of history’s famed rubies have in fact been spinel.

spinel

One of the most famous examples is the so-called “Black Prince’s ruby.” This historic crimson-red gem is set in England’s Imperial State Crown and displayed in the Tower of London. It wasn’t until the 1780’s that mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle identified spinel as a different mineral than ruby.