Peridot August’s Traditional Birthstone

Fine Peridot Can Truly Sparkle Like Non-Other.

One of my favorite, sparkling, summer colors, is the verdant and vibrant green of Peridot from Myanmar. Those who in the past have complained about their August birthstone are often delighted and mesmerized when, for the first time, they see  this most vibrant, apple green.

Peridot is actually a gemstone with a long and ancient history.

 

  • Peridot is actually a French word that is derived from the Arabic word “faridat” meaning gem. That means, when you pronounce the word, peridot, the ‘t’ at the end is silent.
  • The use of peridot in jewelry and other ornaments dates as far back as the ancient Egyptians, from around 1500 B.C., making it one of the oldest gemstones. In ancient times, Egypt was the primary source of peridot. It was called, the gem of the sun.
  • The Egyptians were mesmerized with peridot. It was often made into a talisman to ward off evil. Interestingly, the gemstones worn by Queen Cleopatra were not emeralds, as it was popularly believed, but were actually peridot. Traders at the time were not yet familiar with this rare gem and mistook it for the darker green emerald, that they already knew.
  • Egyptian peridot was mined on the island Topazios, which is now known as Zeberget. The stones were mainly mined at night, because it was believed they were not easily seen in daylight. Mining at night was also likely a result of the island being infested with snakes.
  • Peridot is the gem-quality form of the mineral olivine and is found primarily among rocks that were created by volcanoes and buried deep underground (igneous rocks), so wherever there are or were volcanoes, this mineral might be found.
  • Peridot is one of only a few gemstones that comes in only one color. While all peridots are green, it is found in different shades of green, spanning from a pale-yellow green, to an olive-green to even a bright and more valuable, apple green. The most expensive Peridots are a sparkling apple, or lime-green without brown or yellow modifiers. These shades of green make stunning pieces of jewelry in both yellow as well as white metals.
  • Peridot is mined from a number of locations including, the San Carlos reservation in Arizona, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, and China. Peridot is also mined in many other parts of the world such as Pakistan and Kenya. Peridot that is from the U.S. is usually much smaller and lighter in color than the varieties from other locales.
  • One note that I find simply fascinating is that some peridot specimens have been discovered in meteorites, though this is very rare.
  • Throughout history, peridot has often been confused with emerald. It was thought for a long time that the very large peridots weighing more than 200 carats each adorning the Shrine of the Three Kings at the Cologne Cathedral were emeralds. Likewise as we discussed earlier, many people now believe that Cleopatra’s famous “emerald” jewels were in fact peridot.

So when you are looking to purchase a peridot gem, search for the most vibrant, apple green. Look for gems that are beautifully faceted. A finely cut peridot will sparkle through and through and will not display the common window appearance of gems cut from very thin crystal rough. Also, beware of the clarity of the gem. Gems that appear silky, have visible black crystals or small cracks have a much lower value.

Above all wear your peridot with pride, because you are participating in a very long and ancient tradition  that includes merchants, clergy, collectors, kings and queens.

In my next blog, learn about August’s newest birthstone, another ancient and very famous gem.

Check out the detail of this gorgeous peridot here.