August Birthstone – Peridot
Peridot is the birthstone for August. The peridot birthstone is known for being formed under extreme conditions, as it can be found in the hardened lava that carried it from deep within Earth’s mantle as well as in meteorites that traveled from outer space.
The word “peridot” comes from the Arabic faridat, meaning gem. This August birthstone was valued in many ancient and medieval cultures. It appeared in priests’ jewelry as early as the second century BCE and later in the chalices and churches of medieval Europe. The peridot birthstone has also been used for centuries as a protective talisman, shielding the owner from evil spirits and “terrors of the night.”
August Birthstone Color
The Peridot is generally yellowish-green to greenish-yellow. It’s a unique birthstone because it is always a shade of green and no other color. The intensity of color depends on the amount of iron; the more iron it contains, the deeper green it will be (and, generally, the more valuable).
Peridot is both a day stone and a night stone, keeping its shining color even under artificial lighting. For this reason, it is sometimes called “Evening Emerald”.
Peridots are found either deep within the mantle of the Earth at high temperatures and brought to the surface by volcanic activity or riding to Earth on flaming meteorites (called pallasite meteorites)! The latter is fairly rare and the peridot deposits are usually too small for jewelry.
Pliny the Elder an ancient naturalist, first recorded the existence of peridot on a small island off the coast of Egypt. This island was closely guarded by the ancient Egyptians because it was thought to be the site of priceless treasures. It is widely believed that some of Cleopatra’s famous emeralds were actually peridots. Peridot was popular among the Pharaohs in Egypt and, even today, it is the national gem of Egypt. Peridots are also closely connected to the Hawaiian culture.
WHERE IS PERIDOT FOUND?
Most of the peridot seen in jewelry today comes from sources such as China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Tanzania, Vietnam, and the United States, some journied to Earth on meteorites while others are found in exotic locales like Peridot Beach, Hawaii, where the sands shimmer a luminous green.
The Egyptian island of Zabargad is the oldest recorded source of this August birthstone. Mining may have begun around 340–279 BCE. Although the island produced beautiful peridot, its harsh conditions earned it ominous names like Island of Death and Ophiodes (“snake island”).
Myanmar (formerly Burma) is another important source of the peridot birthstone. On the northern slope of Kyaukpon, a mountainous region near the gem city of Mogok, loose peridot crystals can sometimes be found in crevices. The finest-quality peridot from this locality has a deep color and superb transparency.
This August birthstone has also come to Earth via pallasite (made of nickel-iron and olivine) meteorites. Thousands of meteorites have hit the earth, many of them containing olivine, but only a few have had gem-quality peridot.
PERIDOT BIRTHSTONE CARE & CLEANING
With a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, peridot is softer than many gems and cannot take hard wear, so it is not recommended for daily use in a ring. This August birthstone can also be damaged by some acids and even by long-term exposure to acidic perspiration. Cleaning peridot is a delicate process. Never use steam or an ultrasonic cleaner, as your peridot birthstone is vulnerable to thermal shock. It is safest to use a soft-bristle brush with mild dish soap in warm water. Peridot should be stored with care to avoid scratching by gems with greater hardness.