Birthstone of the Month: August
Peridot is a precious mineral with a unique transparency and a refreshing green color that ranges from a rich olive to brilliant chartreuse. It has a long history of being confused with green gems such as topaz. In ancient times, high-quality peridots were often mistaken for emeralds – in fact today they are sometimes called “evening emeralds,” because their color appears so much richer in dim light.
Image: Legend Diamond
Peridots are found in southeast Asia, parts of Africa, Australia, and the American Southwest. A barren volcanic island in the Red Sea called Zabargad has long been acknowledged as the world’s premier peridot hotspot. The peridots of Hawaii were traditionally known as the “tears of Pele,” the fire goddess – a nod to their volcanic source. Some have even been found in the remains of meteorites.
Despite their violent origins, the peridot’s color is strangely soothing and mesmerizing, as even those of us who aren’t fans of green will have to admit. It’s easy to believe the rich mystical lore that has evolved around its supposed powers. In many parts of the world, it was thought to release tension and anxiety, protect the wearer from depression, nightmares and other negative influences, and promote confidence and romance.
A peridot with milky inclusions. Image: Wikimedia Commons
It’s easy to find an affordable peridot that will be a perfect fit for your wardrobe (and budget!) For all you midsummer-born folks, the entrancing glow makes a great fashion statement for your time of year (and if you have green eyes, peridot is the ideal accessory to make them really “pop”!) Keep in mind that peridot is a fairly soft stone, so it is less often used in rings or other pieces that are more likely to suffer impact. Peridot earrings or pendants will take only the gentlest cleaning, so wash them with mild soapy water. Don’t expose them to acids or extreme temperatures.
August’s alternate birthstone is the silica-based sardonyx, a red-banded form of chalcedony that was especially popular among ancient Romans. According to their belief, sardonyx bestows bravery, victory, and eloquence – making it a great gift for guys with August birthdays!
Visit the GIA’s definitive page on peridot: