August’s birthstone, the peridot, is a light green, ancient, cosmic birthstone that has been found in volcanic lava in Hawaii—and in meteorites that have fallen to Earth. The Egyptians called peridot the “gem of the Sun” and believed it had special healing powers.
AUGUST BIRTHSTONE COLOR
The Peridot (pronounced PEAR-A-DOE or PEAR-A-DOT) is generally a light green color. 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 1) deep within the mantle of the Earth at high temperatures and brought to the surface by volcanic activity or 2) 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 (23-79 AD), 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—they are thought to be the tears of the volcano goddess Pele.
Peridot, the bright green color of nature, is associated with harmony, good health, restful sleep, and peacefulness. Known as the stone of compassion, peridot calms anger by giving renewal to all things.
When set in gold, this gem was said to protect the wearer from nightmares. Supposedly, it frees the mind of envious thoughts that can damage and strain relationships. Also, peridot is believed to help depression.
BIRTHSTONE FACTS & FOLKLORE
The largest peridot ever found weighs 319 carats. You can see it in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Peridot is popular with some British royals. The Duchess of Cambridge, or Princess Kate, wears a pair of peridot, blue topaz, and diamond earrings. King Edward VII declared peridot his favorite gemstone; vintage peridot jewelry is frequently found from the Edwardian era (as well as Victorian era).
In the 1700s, a meteorite that landed in Siberia contained many peridot crystals that were large enough to be used for jewelry.