Peridot – August Birthstone & Gem of Light

Happy Birthday August babies! Let’s get to know a little bit more about your birthstone Peridot.

One of the oldest known gemstones in history, the Peridot is part of the olivine mineral class and is defined by its yellowish green hue. Peridot has been a popular stone throughout history, used as jewelry and decoration. Formed in the mantle of the earth, this stone is mined as volcanic activity brings the gem towards the surface.

History

As early as 1500 BC, Peridot was discovered off the coast of Egypt on Zabagard also known as St. John Island in the Red Sea. This area has been 100% mined and for a time Peridot was very rare until other mines were found in Burma, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Arizona.

Known as the “gem of light” and “evening emerald”, these nicknames came about because Peridot was thought to hold light inside and protect against the “terrors of the night”. In ancient times the stones powers were thought to be strongest if set in gold or worn on your left arm. Soldiers knotted them on donkey hair to ward off evil spirits.

Mistaken Identity

Throughout history Peridot was often confused with Emeralds because they are both green. Cleopatra is perhaps the best example.

Notoriously famous for her large collection of Emerald jewelry, Cleopatra loved them so much she even laid claims on mines in Egypt for her own private, personal use. Historians now believe that the majority of her collection was actually Peridot.

Another case of mistaken identity was at Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The Shrine of the Three Holy Kings is set with over 1000 gems and beads including what was thought to be 200 carats of Emeralds. After later examination all of the supposed Emeralds were actually Peridot. Although the stones are different then originally believed, it is still a beautiful masterpiece.

Famous Peridot

The Green Goddess – This pear shaped Peridot, weighing 154 carats, made its debut at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 at the Field Museum Gem Collection. In 2008 Lester Lampert was commissioned to use this stone in a piece of jewelry. Lampert bezel set the gem in 18karat yellow gold with a halo of 3.24 carats of diamonds and a goddess engraved in the gold behind the stone. This stunning Peridot can still be seen at the Field Museum in Chicago.

 

Click here to learn more about the history of birthstone. Check back soon to learn fun facts about next month’s birthstone – blue sapphire!