The meaning behind August's birthstone: Spinel

Large Red Spinel - Mahenge, Morogoro, Tanzania  image courtesy -

Large Red Spinel - Mahenge, Morogoro, Tanzania

image courtesy -

August’s original birthstone was sardonyx, a layered reddish zebra stripe stone, lime green peridot followed and though it is still the months primary gemstone, the addition of spinel, which can be found in a variety of colors, gives August babies a host of options when it comes to choosing jewellery aligned to their birth month.

We love spinel for its fantastic vibrant range of colours and toughness, so much so that it’s the centre piece in one of our new Stardust rings. We take a look in more detail at the story of this stone.

Best known for its ruby-like blood red lustre, spinel is available in a rainbow of vibrant colors in shades of pink and purple, fiery oranges, and cool hues ranging from powdery gray to the intense blue featured in our Stardust ring (shown below), we think it is a beautiful alternative birthstone to the yellow-green peridot.

In the past 106 years the modern birthstone list has been amended only three times, in a move that surprised gemmologists and gem lovers everywhere the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) announced in 2016 that spinel would be joining peridot as an official birthstone for August.

Historically, spinel (and other red gemstones) were thought to protect their wearer from harm and enhance vitality – largely because the red colour was associated with blood or ‘life force’. Other beliefs linked spinel with banishing sadness, replenishing energy and helping their wearer to overcome challenges.

Much of the stone's mystique stems from its misidentification for so many years; the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) calls spinel “the great impostor of gemstone history” because some of the world's most famous “rubies” are actually spinels!

Prominently displayed on the Imperial State Crown of England the 170-carat Black Prince Ruby, is actually an irregular cabochon red spinel. The 361-carat Timur Ruby presented to Queen Victoria by the East India Company was later identified as a spinel. Last but not least the 398-carat ruby-red gem that tops the Imperial Crown of Russia turned out to be… you guessed it a spinel. Oops!

Some of the most beautiful spinels — especially the pink, red and orange-red varieties — are found in Myanmar. They’re also sourced from Afghanistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Kenya, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam.

Hargreaves Stockholm strives to use responsibly sourced stones carefully selected by professional gemmologists according to severe quality controls. Each single stone is carefully examined for inclusions, sheen, tone, colour and sizes. Precious stones can be treated during the cutting process; washing, polishing, colouring, heat- or wax-treatment can optimise the appearance and durability of precious stones. We also offer lab-grown stones of the same quality as an alternative to mined stones on request.

Our Stardust ring…

showcases this fabulously elegant intense blue spinel in Hargreaves Stockholm’s clean, curvaceous style; a gently tapering ring with the stone mounted in a delicate crown setting developed by Hargreaves Stockholm and complemented by Jemima’s signature glittering scattered setting style to the shoulders…

Check back next month for the meaning behind September’s birthstone: Sapphire

AdviceJemima Hargreaves