August’s birthstone: Peridot
Peridot is not as well known as some gemstones, despite being August’s birthstone and the gemstone for a 15th wedding anniversary. I think this beautiful green gemstone deserves much wider fame!
The name peridot originally comes from the Arabic word ‘faridat’, which means ‘gemstone’, via the old French word ‘peritot’.
A variety of the mineral olivine, beautiful green peridot is one of very few gemstones that occur in one colour only. The precise hue depends on the amount of iron present in the crystal structure, and can range from a bright, citrusy shade of green to a deeper, grassier colour.
Formed deep underground, peridot is brought to the earth’s surface during volcanic eruptions. Because of this, peridot gems are associated with Pele, goddess of volcanoes in Hawaiian culture.
The peridot crystals themselves are found as nodules (solid, rounded masses of crystals) or as veins within igneous rocks such as basalt.
Peridot is also associated with meteor crash sites and scientists have even discovered peridot in mineral samples gathered by space probes near the sun. For this reason, August’s birthstone is sometimes referred to as the extra-terrestrial gemstone, making it the perfect gift for sci-fi fans!
Beloved of the Egyptians, peridot was first discovered on the Egyptian island Zagbarad (known in ancient times as ‘Topazios’) and is mentioned both in the bible and the writings of Roman natural historian Pliny the Elder. Peridot is also mined in Myanmar, the USA, China, Africa and Australia, though the finest specimens are found on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In the 1900s, an enormous deposit was found in a mountain pass in Pakistan, 4,000 metres above sea level – so high up that mining can only take place in the summer months. Peridot from these mines is often sold as ‘Kashmir peridot’ to indicate that its fine quality matches that of Kashmir sapphires.
Its clarity makes peridot a sparkly gem — perfect for parties and occasion jewellery. Perhaps this quality is the reason that peridot is referred to as the ‘stone of light’. The Egyptians called it ‘the gem of the sun’.
Probably also due to its clarity, August’s birthstone has long been believed to ward off nightmares. A gold setting is thought to enhance this property. Pliny the Elder advises wearing peridot on the right arm for it to have the best effect.
Peridot is also thought by some to be effective for disorders of the liver, heart, lungs and spleen, and is used to promote a sense of calm and mental wellbeing.
Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence