• Peridot: The Birthstone for August

August 09, 2016

Each month of the year traditionally has a gemstone associated with it, this custom started in ancient times but the canonical version we know today was set down in 1912. For those born in June your birthstone is Peridot!

This semi-precious gemstone exists is olive green in colour and was once referred to by Ancient Egyptians as 'The Gem of the Sun'.  

Our Top 7 Facts and Peridot    

Fact One 

The most precious peridot gemstones are grass green in colour, however most peridots occur in a beautiful yellowish-green. Peridot is also known by the name of Chrysolite, a name derived from Greek meaning 'gold stone'. 

 

9ct Yellow Gold & Peridot Stacking Ring

Fact Two

The island of Zabargad, found in the red sea, is the longest and oldest known source of gem quality peridot. The Greek historian and geographer Agatharchides of Cnidus mentions this island during the 2nd century, explaining how the gemstones where best found under the moonlight. 

 "And the stone we have mentioned, being found in the rock, is not discernible during the day because of the stifling heat, since it is overcome by the brilliance of the sun, but when night falls it shines in the dark and is visible from afar, in whatever place it may be."  

Agatharchides, as paraphrased by Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC; Library of History, 3.39.3–9)

A peridot crystal glowing in dim light. Image: Edward Gubelin, www.gia.edu  

Fact Two

Ancient Egyptians are thought to have mined peridot from the island of Zabargad, then known as Topazios. Many now believe Cleopatras collection of emeralds actually were peridots. Peridot gemstones mined in ancient Egypt often looked very dark green in colour, explaining the possible confusion between emerald and peridot. 

 

A portrait of Cleopatra carved in peridot by a Greek artist, ca. 175-115 BC (Hellenistic-Ptolemaic).

Image: The Art Walters Musuem 

 Fact Three

Peridot is often faceted to accentuate it's extreme double refraction properties. Look closely and you'll see double the sparkle! 

A 28.45ct fancy round brilliant cut peridot gemstone from Pakistan.

Image: The Smithsonian Institute

 

Fact Four

More rarely, it is possible to find cat's eye peridot and star peridot. 

 

Rare Cats Eye Peridot

Fact Five

Peridot is also found in lava, meteorites and deep in the earth's mantle. It has a similarity  to diamond in that they were both formed under extreme conditions.

Extraterrestrial Peridot from the Esquel Meteorite. Image: Robert A. Haag; photo by GIA/Robert Weldon.

Fact Six

Peridot was worn as a talisman and often had mystical associations. If set in gold, it was thought to protect the wearer from night terrors.

John Henry Fuseli - The Nightmare

 

Fact Seven

Peridot can be worn during the day and at night as it radiates a bright green glow even under artificial light. For this reason peridot is named the 'evening emerald'. 

 

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