The August Birthstone is commonly Peridot. It is one of the few gemstones that are found in one colour which is olive green. However the intensity of the green can be affected by the concentration of iron in the crystal structure. This means that the gemstone could be a variation of green with a shade of anything from yellow to brown. In addition to being the birthstone for August, the Peridot is also given to celebrate a couples 16th wedding anniversary.
Here is an excerpt from Tiffany’s poem which was first published in 1870.
The history and traditions relating to Peridot
Peridot was mined around 3500 years ago and is one of the oldest known gemstones connected with ancient Egypt. It is named after the French word meaning gold as it can sometimes be found in a similar colour.
The stone is the national gem of Egypt and was once known as the “Gem of the Sun”
Gems were collected for the Pharoah’s treasury from Topazo Island (known as Zabargad or Saint John’s Island today) in the Red Sea by it’s inhabitants. The mines were active for centuries and eventually nationalized in 1958 when production had virtually finished.
During the crusades in the Middle Ages, Europeans returned with Peridots to decorate church plates and regalia. Some large pieces once existed in Europe but due to wars and pillaging have since disappeared and perhaps been broken into smaller pieces to be set in jewellery.
One of the largest stones that still survives is in Cologne Cathedral in Germany. It was only recently identified as a Peridot and for centuries was believed to be an Emerald.
It is also believed by many historians that Cleopatra’s famous emerald collection was in fact Peridot.
Until a military coup in 1962 Burma was a fine source for good quality Peridot. However due to the uncertainty of the political situation in Burma most stones are now sold on the “Black Market” via smugglers.
Up to 95% of the world’s peridot supply is now sourced in Arizona.
Myths and legends of the August Birthstone
Peridot has long been associated with magical powers and properties.
Some of the alleged properties and beliefs are listed below:
- If the gem is set in gold it will be more effective as a talisman to protect from nightmares and terrors of the night.
- Pliny The Elder stated that the talisman must be worn on the right arm in order to be most effective.
- Prevents jealousy
- Promotes happiness and friendship
- Improves the eyesight
- Enables control of the wind and evil spirits.
- Cures liver disease and digestion problems
- Heals ulcers and helps with detoxification of the bod
- Heals insect bites
- Strengthens abdomen muscles when giving birth
- Treats fever and skin diseases
- Aids depression and anger
- Opens the mind to new opportunities
- Increases confidence and self esteem
- Creates wealth and financial success
As you are probably aware, these beliefs are complete nonsense and based on old wive’s tales and medieval superstitions.
Having said that the Peridot is an impressive looking gemstone and a great addition to anyone’s jewellery collection.
Other information about the August Birthstone
As already mentioned, the majority of Peridot now comes from Arizona, Examples can also be found in China, Mexico, Oregon, Norway, Pakistan, Russia and Sri Lanka. Large stones are now very rare the darker colour which can be mistaken for emerald, is not often seen as it occurs only in stones weighing more than ten carats.
Peridot is often found in volcanic rock and has also been discovered in meteorites.
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