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Why are there 3 birthstones for August?

Why are there 3 birthstones for August?

August is a special month that happens to have not one, not two, but three official birthstone options. This unique situation can seem confusing at first glance. However, each of the three August birthstones – peridot, spinel, and sardonyx – has its own intriguing history and symbolic meaning behind its association with the eighth month of the year.

The History and Meaning of Peridot

Peridot is one of the original official birthstones for August, as designated by the American National Association of Jewelers (now known as Jewelers of America) in 1912. This lime green mineral has been valued for its beautiful color since ancient times. The earliest peridot jewelry comes from Egypt, where it was mined on the island of Zabargad over four thousand years ago. The ancient Romans also prized peridot and brought it back from their conquests in Egypt.

The vivid green color of peridot symbolizes life, nature, renewal, and good health. This uplifting and energizing shade perfectly embodies the flourishing growth of summer. Peridot’s name comes from the French word “peritot,” meaning unclear, because peridot can vary between yellowish-green, olive green, and brownish-green hues. Most gem-quality peridot has an iron content that gives it a deeper green color.

Peridot is formed deep inside the earth and brought to the surface by volcanoes. Historically, the volcanic island of Zabargad was the main source of peridot, but today most production comes from Arizona in the United States. Peridot rates 6.5-7 on the Mohs hardness scale, so it is somewhat sensitive to pressure and impact.

In crystal healing traditions, peridot is believed to bring peace, prosperity, and emotional balance. The friendly green energy of this August birthstone is said to promote forgiveness, compassion, and overall wellbeing.

The Legend of Sardonyx

Sardonyx joins peridot as a traditional August birthstone. This banded form of onyx consists of alternating layers of reddish-brown sard and white onyx. Sardonyx was originally added to the August birthstone list by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912.

According to ancient Greek legend, sardonyx got its name from a story about the goddess Aphrodite and her son Eros. One day, Aphrodite and Eros were taking a break from mischief-making by having a friendly archery contest. Eros boldly challenged his mother to a game – whoever missed the target would have to do whatever the winner commanded.

Eros ended up losing the match and had to obey Aphrodite. She ordered her son Eros to go make the princess Sardonyx fall hopelessly in love. Not only did Eros succeed, he ended up falling in love with the princess too! The couple’s deep romantic bond was said to be symbolized in the stone by the passionate red sard layers next to the white onyx layers that represent purity and virtue.

Spinel Joins the August Birthstone Lineup

In 2016, the Jewelers of America added spinel as an additional August birthstone. Unlike peridot and sardonyx, spinel does not have a long history of being associated specifically with August. However, spinel has been treasured for centuries by jewelers and gem enthusiasts.

This exquisite gem comes in a spectacular array of rainbow colors. The name “spinel” comes from the Latin word for “spark,” since spinel is known for its dazzling brilliance. Spinel rates between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it extremely durable for jewelry use.

Until the late 18th century, red spinel was often confused with ruby. In fact, the famous Black Prince’s Ruby that forms part of the British Imperial State Crown is actually a large red spinel weighing 170 carats.

Today, spinel is still one of the lesser known contemporary gemstones. In that sense, becoming an official birthstone was an opportunity to bring this stone the recognition it deserves. The dynamic energy and variety of spinel nicely complements peridot and sardonyx as August’s trio of birthstones.

How Each August Birthstone Relates to This Summer Month

Let’s look more closely at why peridot, sardonyx, and spinel each resonate with the distinctive spirit of August.


  • Vibrant green color epitomizes the lushness of summer
  • Uplifting energy promotes growth, renewal, and vitality
  • Formed deep inside the earth and brought to light – symbolic of August sun ripening hidden potential


  • Alternative red and white striped layers evoke sizzling August heat
  • Romantic legend aligns with idea of summer flings and adventures
  • Believed to enhance commitment and happiness in relationships


  • Dazzling colors span the spectrum like an August rainbow
  • Vibrancy inspires creativity and passion
  • Rarity heightens its special mystique like the fleeting summer season

Comparing Key Traits of August’s 3 Birthstones

Birthstone Colors Hardness Meaning
Peridot Yellowish-green to olive green 6.5-7 Life, nature, renewal
Sardonyx Alternating red & white layers 7 Commitment, happiness
Spinel All colors 7.5-8 Energy, creativity

How to Choose Between August’s 3 Birthstones

So how do you decide between these beautiful August birthstones if you’re looking for a gift for someone born in this month? Here are some tips:

  • Consider the recipient’s favorite color – peridot for green lovers, spinel for rainbow fans, sardonyx for those drawn to bold reds.
  • Think about the symbolism and meanings – peridot for vitality, sardonyx for relationships, spinel for boldness.
  • Factor in aesthetic preferences – peridot’s green glow, spinel’s rainbow sparkle, sardonyx’s bold stripes.
  • Remember spinel is a newer addition – traditionalists may favor peridot or sardonyx.
  • Look at jewelry settings – peridot in silver, sardonyx in bold gold, spinel in modern white gold.

The great thing about having a choice of August birthstones is that you’re sure to find the perfect gift! Peridot, sardonyx, and spinel each have their own personalities that allow you to customize your selection. Anyone born in August is lucky to be able to pick from these three dynamic gemstones.


August’s triple birthstone lineup of peridot, sardonyx, and spinel provides options for all tastes and styles. Each stone has unique symbolic meanings and a distinctive look. But what they all share is an energetic summery beauty that resonates with the spirit of August. Whether you’re shopping for August birthstone jewelry for yourself or someone else, you’ll find inspiration in the diversity and intrigue of these gems!