The long summer quietly begins to wane, as we enter the glorious month of August. As summer’s last messenger, the month of August frames scenes of green glory, heralding the rush of autumn hues. Those born during August, a month typically associated with abundance and prosperity, are a lucky bunch having three beautiful gemstones representing their birth month.
The month of August is represented by three striking gemstones sardonyx, peridot and spinel. With a history dating back 4,000 years, sardonyx was the original August birthstone. However, the reddish-brown, zebra-striped stone was surpassed by the vibrant lime-green glow of peridot, which is now widely considered the primary birthstone for the month of August. The third birthstone for August is spinel. Until recently, the spinel was largely underappreciated however, it’s bright sparkle has recaptured the world’s attention and seen the precious gem increase in popularity.
In this article we discuss perhaps the most striking of the three birthstones - the peridot. Below you’ll discover more about the fascinating origin and history of the peridot, as well as why this vibrant gem makes the perfect gift for those near and dear to you who are celebrating their birthday in August.
Most scholars agree that peridot derives its name from the Arabic word “faridat”, which means “gem”, however some believe its name is rooted in the ancient Greek word “peridona,” meaning “giving plenty”. Perhaps this is the reason why peridot is traditionally associated with prosperity and good fortune, as well as the abundance associated with the month of August.
From electric yellow-green tones to richer olive-green varieties, peridot comes in an assortment of shades of green. Peridot is a gem-quality form of the mineral olivine and the intensity and hue of the green that the stone displays depends on how much iron is present in the crystal structure.
The cosmic origin of this luminous green stunner is utterly fascinating. Peridot is the only gemstone found in meteors, in fact, some specimens have journeyed to Earth on pallasite meteorites which are the remnants of the birth of our solar system. From the heavens above to deep below the Earth’s surface, the peridot is an amazing gemstone formed under extreme conditions. Much like diamonds, peridot is formed under intense pressure, deep within the Earth’s mantle and brought to the surface by volcanic activity. Gem-quality peridots from meteorites are rare and you’re more likely to see peridot originate from areas that have born witness to massive volcanic eruptions and rivers of lava many thousands of years ago.
Today, the world’s peridot supply predominantly comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Peridot is also mined in parts of China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Tanzania and Pakistan. What makes peridot even more unique is not only the fact that it is the only gemstone found in meteors, it is the first gemstone discovered on another planet. Huge deposits of peridot crystals were discovered on Mars during a 2003 mission to survey the Red Planet. Over 30,000 square miles of phenomenal green peridot crystals cover Mars surface.
In ancient Egypt, peridot was called the “gem of the sun” and was believed to protect the wearer from “terrors of the night”, especially when the luminous gem was set in gold. Thought to harness the power of nature by Egyptian priests, peridot was often used to adorn goblets that were used during rituals in order to commune with their nature gods.
However, peridot was not the exclusive preserve of Egyptian high priests. In fact it’s most iconic ruler Cleopatra, was well known for coveting these glowing green gems, laying claim to a desert island in the Red Sea called Zeberget where they were mined in abundance. Now known as St. John’s Island, it is believed to be the oldest recorded source of peridot and is the likely explanation as to why many of Cleopatra’s famed emerald collection turned out to be peridot.
Throughout ancient and medieval history, emeralds and peridot were often confused with each other. The magnificent 200-carat gemstones adorning the shrine of the Three Holy Kings in Germany’s Cologne Cathedral were long believed to be emeralds as well. However, they are in fact, peridots.
Peridot, August’s birthstone, is truly a unique gem that boasts an incredible origin story and equally fascinating history. If you’re looking for a memorable and meaningful gift for a loved one celebrating their birthday during the month of August, we invite you to browse our stunning collection of exquisitely crafted fine jewelry featuring the enamouring beauty of peridot.