August's Birthstone: The Peppy Peridot

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The birthstone for the month of August is the peridot. It is a magnificently beautiful green stone, which brings life to any jewelry setting. As a little girl, I always marveled at my mother's natural green peridot ring that she wore often, as it is her birthstone. Born at the end of summer, she always told me that green is the color of life and that it was naturally a beautiful stone. I am always in awe of a beautiful mossy-green peridot when I see one, as it was one of the first jewelry pieces that I remember admiring as a little girl.

History of the Peridot

The Arabic word for "gem" is "faridat," which was where the peridot got its name. The peridot is thought of as one of the oldest gemstones, as it was recorded as early as 1500 BC being used in jewelry for wealthy Egyptians. Ancient Romans wore the gemstone frequently as well, as they were very fond of the color and referred to it as the "emerald of the evening." Ancient Hebrews believed that the peridot was used by Aaron, and it is also predicted to be present during the apocalypse mentioned in the book of Revelation. It was also popular in medieval European churches as décor for treasured objects such as shrines. During the Middle Ages, the peridot was used to adorn robes at churches in Europe.

Colors of the Peridot

Belonging to the olivine forsterite fayalite mineral family, the green peridot gets its color from the mineral itself, while other gemstones get their color from impurities within the stone. Because of this, the peridot only has one color, and that is a beautiful green hue, making it one of very few gemstones that are idiochromatic. The ideal color of the peridot is a vivid green color with a small bit of gold undertone, but the stone can be found in colors ranging from a lighter yellow to a brownish-green tone as well.

Mining the Peridot

Zabargad, also known as St. John, is a volcanic island in the Red Sea. This island, slightly east of Egypt, has the largest deposit of peridot and was used for mining the stone for more than 3,000 years. Egypt also is known for providing the world with beautiful peridot. Currently, the higher quality peridot stones are mainly mined in Egypt, Myanmar (Burma), and Pakistan. Although the deposits are much smaller, peridot can also be found in Kenya, Brazil, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Australia, Vietnam, China, and the United States. Mines within the U.S. can be found in Hawaii, Arkansas, Nevada, and Arizona. Peridot in its original olivine form has also been found on Mars, and it's been found in crystal form in pallasite meteors that have come into Earth's atmosphere.

Peridot's Mystical Properties

There are several legends that surround the peridot. Some believe that if the gemstone is set in gold, it can be a talisman to rid one of bad dreams. Romans believed that in order to have any power at all, the stone must be worn only on the right hand. Legends claim that the stone can protect the wearer from evil, and it is also thought to bring friendship, happiness, love, and good eyesight.

Facts About the Peridot

Cleopatra wore peridot but actually believed she was wearing emeralds, as Egyptians mistook the vivid green stone for being peridot. The stone is mentioned in the Bible but is referred to as "pitdah," which is its Hebrew name. Peridot has been very popular among Hawaiians, as it is a stone that is found only through volcanic activity, which brings the stone up from the earth's core. The largest peridot ever found weighs more than 46 carats and was found in Pakistan. It is housed at the Smithsonian Museum, along with a necklace containing a stone weighing more than 34 carats that was mined from the San Carlos reservation in Arizona.