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Sardonyx is the mystical birthstone for the month of August.
Although you may not have heard of sardonyx, you have probably heard of its blood-red to red-orange translucent counterpart that is also a variety of chalcedony, carnelian. Sardonyx is the name given to bands of sard and white chalcedony. Sard is a translucent, light to dark brown chalcedony (formula: SiO2), taking the name from the Greek sardis, the capital of ancient Lydia. Until the Middle Ages, it shared the name "sardion" with carnelian. Carnelians' color is due to the presence of iron oxide, and it can be uniformly colored or banded. Strongly banded material is not known as carnelian agate.
Sard forms from the deposition of silica at low temperatures from silica-rich waters percolating through cracks and fissures in other rocks. One famous locality for sard is Ratnapura, Sri Lanka. Other sources are in India, Brazil, and Uruguay. It was used in Harappa, one of the oldest centers of the Indus civilization (1450-1100 BC), and also by Assyrians (1400-600 BC). Scotland, Brazil, and Washington State are among the localities that produce the finer-quality carnelian. Freshly mined sard, especially Indian material, is often placed in the sun to change the brown tints to red.
|Sard, sardonyx, and carnelian have been used since ancient times for making cameos and intaglios. Wearing sard jewelry has always been considered fortunate. In the 4th century, Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, noted sard's medicinal value for wounds, and in the 11th century, Bishop Marbodius remarked on it as a protector against incantation and sorcery. The ancients also believed that sardonyx had the ability to preserve its wearer from infectious complaints and the bites of venomous creatures, particularly from the sting of a scorpion.|
The Romans believed that wearing sardonyx would bring them courage, honor, success, and wealth. Roman soldiers wore or carried sardonyx talismans engraved with heroes or gods, such as Hercules or Mars (God of war) because they believed the talismans brought the wearer the same attributes of courage and daring, as the carved figures supposedly. In medieval Europe, sardonyx represented spiritual strength joined with humility. Sardonyx was also believed to provide self-control, protect against various infections, and even ensure a happy marriage.
In ancient Egypt, sardonyx was the “every man’s stone,” accessible to most people, it was the stone a common man fell in love with. Egyptians believed that sardonyx brought good luck and wore them as talismans. Sardonyx is believed to give its wearer honor, financial rewards, and success. Sardonyx, at one time, was more precious than sapphire, silver, or even gold. It was believed that if hung around the neck, sardonyx would allay pain, attract friends, and ensure success in legal matters. This gem is believed to strengthen the bond between partners of any kind.
Sardonyx is said to cleanse the immune system and absorb nutrients in the intestines. It is believed to alleviate pain in the spine and lower back, ease menstrual cramps, and is an all-purpose body cleanser, ridding the body of impurities. When worn or place near the heart, sardonyx is said to alleviate depression. Carnelian was once thought to still the blood and calm the temper. Conversely, it was also said to give the owner courage in battle and help timid speakers to be eloquent.