Monday, August 1, 2011

Carnelian & Peridot: August's Birthstones

Carnelian, the traditional and ancient birthstone for August, is a versatile stone, comfortable in antique settings and yet popular in modernist jewelry as well. It is a form of chalcedony, which is basically quartz. Colors range from orange to blood red, the latter being the most prized color.

In jewelry, carnelian is used as beads and cabochons, or carved into wonderful shapes, like scarabs, cameos and the like. I have seen larger pieces carved into small statues, trinket boxes and handles for elaborate tools. It has been prized and used since antiquity when it was sourced off the surfaces of the Egyptian and Arabian deserts.
Carnelian intaglio with a Ptolemaic queen holding a sceptre, decorated with gemstones in a gold frame (1st century BC)

Peridot is an under-rated gemstone. It can be a beautiful bright green gem when faceted or a luscious pale green when displayed as a cabochon. In the 1830's and 1840's peridot was a favored stone, but its popularity truly rose at the end of the 19th century during the aesthetic period of the Victorian era (1890-1901) and the reign of Edward VII of England (1901-1910). The stone is still popular today, as it is a fine "substitute" for emeralds in less costly jewelry, adds an excellent sparkle to jade pieces when such glitz is desired, and is just plain pretty on its own.
Peridot, seed pearl & amethyst pendant in Suffragette colors c1910
We have a nice selection of carnelian and peridot jewelry at Vintages, both online and in the shop. Here is a sampling of our available selection.
Modernist sterling and carnelian earrings ($75)
Modernist sterling, carnelian and lapis pendant ($65)
Victorian mourning watch fob locket onyx & carnelian in 10K gold ($195)
Three carnelian rings in different settings ($49 to $69 each)
Three peridot bracelets: Top to Bottom: Sterling ($135); Sterling ($85); 14K white gold ($585)
14K gold drop earrings with peridot and jade ($245)
Three peridot rings in various settings ($69 to $99 each)

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