Interesting facts about peridot – August’s birthstone
Peridot is named after the French word peritot, meaning gold, because the mineral can vary towards this color. Peridot is the birthstone for the month of August. It is also the stone given to celebrate the 15th wedding anniversary.
Peridot has a very long written history. Ancient papyri record the mining of these stones as early as 1500 BC. The main source of peridot in the ancient world was Topazo Island (now Zabargad or St. John’s Island) in the Egyptian Red Sea. In Ancient times, peridot stones were used for carved talismans. Island habitants were forced to collect the gems for the Pharaoh’s treasury. Legend says that jealous watchers who had orders to put to death any trespassers guarded the entire island. The story continues that the miners worked in the daytime as well as night, as the gems could be found after nightfall due to their radiance. The miners would mark the spot at night for retrieval the following day.
Here are a few more fun facts you may not already know about August’s birthstone:
Cleopatra famously wore peridots
In ancient times, Egypt was the primary source of the peridot, called the ‘Gem of the Sun’. The Egyptians was extremely fascinated with the peridot, and they were made into Talisman to ward off evil. Interestingly, the gemstones worn by Queen Cleopatra were not emeralds, as it was popularly believed, but actually the peridot. Travelers at the time were not yet familiar with the rare stone and mistook it for the darker green gemstone they already knew.
Peridot in volcanic rock.
It’s mined across the world
Although it was made famous in Egypt, it can actually be mined in many places in America and abroad. American peridot mines exist in Arkansas, Arizona on the San Carlos reservations, Nevada and Hawaii. Foreign sources of the stone include Australia, Kenya, China, Brazil, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Africa, Tanzania and Sri Lanka. Peridot crystals have even been found in pallasite meteorites!
Many ancient texts mention it
References to the gemstone have been found in the Christian bible, going by its Hebrew name ‘Pitdah.’ Egyptian scrolls found by modern archeologists indicate that the ancient Egyptian priests believed the Peridot contained the forces of nature and used cups encrusted with this gemstone to achieve communion with their Nature Gods.
It is woven into ancient Hawaiian folklore
The pale green color associated with the peridot gives off a tropical feel, and with good reason. This stone is formed deep within the earth’s crust and makes its appearance through volcanic activity. In Hawaii, the stone is involved in ancient folklore and is said to symbolize the tears of the Goddess Pele, the goddess of volcanoes and fire.
Its shades can vary
The peridot is one of only a few gemstones that exist in only one color. While all peridots are green, it is found in different shades spanning from pale green, olive-green to even bright lime. The most expensive Peridots are sparkling lime-green without brown or yellow hues. These shades of green combine well with silver or platinum for stunning jewelry that really stands out.
The Smithsonian houses the largest peridot
One of the most famous peridots is a 46.16-karat stone that was extracted in Pakistan and can be seen today in the Smithsonian Museum. Another in the Smithsonian’s collection is an exquisite 34.65-karat peridot necklace with its modified triangular step gemstone that was found at San Carlos Indian Reservation, a location in Arizona now used for mining the stones.
The peridot makes a very special birthstone for the month of August and gives the wearer an opportunity to have jewelry not commonly seen on others. Modern day peridots are predominantly used for rings, earrings, and pendants. They can be cut into many different shapes from square, oval, teardrop as well as heart shaped.