Welcome, August, and your handsome birthstone, Sardonyx. Sardonyx is a striped variety of Chalcedony: bands of "Sard" (usually red, brown or yellow instead of black) alongside bands of white Onyx. From ancient times, sardonyx has been treated to enhance or change the color of the stone.
Sardonyx has been highly-valued from ancient times. Cabochons, beads and amulets have been found dating back to the Bronze Age (3500 BC), notably at the Minoan Palace of Knossos, Crete. The Ancient Egyptians, three millennia before Christ, used the material for bowls and other small service items. And the Hebrew Bible mentions sardonyx (at a time when the stone was more precious than gold, silver or sapphires). Later, Roman warriors carried into battle precious sardonyx amulets carved with the face of Mars, the God of War—to provide courage and, ultimately, success. The Persians believed that sardonyx could cure epilepsy. Medieval English midwives would place a sardonyx pebble between the breasts of their patients to help ease delivery. During the Renaissance, sardonyx was believed to provide eloquence. And Italian Intaglio cameos were sometimes carved in sardonyx—in which the color of the top layer is selectively carved-away to reveal a different, underlying color.
The Edwardian Scottish cufflinks, shown above, are crafted of elegant striped sardonyx cabochons—and fastened to each other with silver chains. Click on the photo above to learn more about them.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248