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Peridot, August’s Green Birthstone

Peridot, sometimes called chrysolite, has a long history, recognised today as the birthstone for those born in August. Mankind has been captivated by the peridot for thousands of years. Because peridot is often mistaken for emerald, historians suspect that some of Cleopatra’s famous emeralds were actually peridot. Some famous treasures generally thought to be of emerald are now known to be peridot.

Some people call peridot “the evening emerald”, reflecting the ease with which good examples can be confused with the much more costly emerald.

Those who are born in August can enjoy the success, peace and good luck linked with theiryellow-green birthstone.

The History Of Peridot

Peridot has been used in jewellery and talismans for thousands of years. The first primary source of peridot wasin the Red Sea from Saint John’s Island(Zabargad Island). The island is about 50 kilometres from the Egyptian coast. Records show that mining took place here as early as 400 B.C. A small amount of peridot still comes from there, but The United States is now the largest producer. Arizona is estimated to produce 80-85% of the world’s supply, with other sources being Myanmar, Pakistan, Vietnam and China.

Beliefs And Meanings Of Peridot

Because Peridot has been used for thousands of years, there are many beliefs and superstitions associated with the gem. As a birthstone, we associate peridot with strength, prosperity and peace. An August baby with a peridot birth gift will be well protected and fortunate!

The ancient Egyptians held that wearing peridot would keep away nightmares and evil spirits. In Cleopatra's time, it was called the gem of the sun" and thought that wearers of the gems would gain power and confidence by doing so. They believed that when set in gold peridot's powers were even more effective.

If peridot was to ward off evil spirits the gem had to be pierced and threaded onto a string made of the hair of a donkey and worn on the left arm. The gem was even used as a cure for asthma. Asthma sufferers would grind the stone into powder place it in water and then drink it. Fever sufferers would place a peridot under the tongue in the expectation that it would cure their fever.

How Peridot Is Formed

Peridot is unusual among gems in that it is formed very deep in the earth at a depth of some 20-55 miles.Like diamond, peridot starts its life in the liquid magma of the mantle of the Earth. The magma, containing peridot, is forced to the surface through volcanic and tectonic activity over millions of years.

Some peridot comes not from the depths of the earth but from meteorites. The chemical structure of such crystals is slightly different to those from the Earth and so can be identified by gemologists.

Peridot As Jewellery

Peridot is very popular as jewellery because of its colour and, almost certainly, its cost. Peridot is much less costly than many other gemstones. Peridot has a hardness of around 6.5 on the Mohs scale, as compared to a diamond at 10. Perhaps because of its relatively low price many people use peridot tumbled rather than cut (faceted). Tumbling is a process where stones are placed in a machine that tumbles the stones with an abrasive to make sharp edges round and to dull any shiny or bright surfaces. The result is a pleasantly smooth, frosted effect. In this form, stones can be used as jewellery or set into items such as picture frames, drinking vessels, lighting etc. Other stones, particularly if larger, are expertly cut in a manner that is similar to diamonds and other gemstones with a view to enhancing the colour and sparkle of the gem.

The value of peridot is based upon the classic 4Cs of gem quality with an emphasis upon colour. The best peridots are a pure green without any trace of brown or yellow. The largest peridot is thought to be a 310-carat stone held by the Smithsonian Institute in the USA.

Most peridot that is cut for fine jewellery is around 1 carat in size. 2-3 carat stones are more costly but not uncommonly found. 5 or more carats, especially if flawless, is rare.

Flawless stones occur naturally but are rare and command the highest prices.

Peridot is unusual in that its colour does not come from a trace impurity but from one of its maincomponents, iron. The shades can vary between yellow-green and a brownish-green. The stone is very acceptable for daily wear because its hardness makes it durable. It is possible to scratch against harder substances so take care. Cleaning is easy, warm, soapy water will keep the stone clean without damage.

Beautiful and green, bringing strength and good fortune, peridot jewellery will be appreciated by the special people in your life and make a treasured keepsake with thousands of years of good wishes and protection.