Peridot is the birthstone for August.
Peridot is a variety of olivine and is a yellowish-green, lustrous stone, also called Chrysolite. The stone is formed due to volcanic activity and is found in shades of pale green, olive green and lime. As Peridot is a gemstone that forms deep inside the Earth and is brought to the surface by volcanoes, in Hawaii, Peridot symbolises the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes. The stone is also known to be the ideal gift for a couple’s 16th Anniversary.
Today, most of the Peridot supply comes from Arizona while other sources are China, Myanmar, and Pakistan. The August birthstone comes in several colour variations ranging from yellowish green to brown, but most consumers are attracted to the bright lime greens and olive greens.
Peridot is among the oldest known gemstones. In ancient times, Egypt was the primary source of the Peridot called the “Gem of the Sun”. The ancient Egyptian priests believed that the Peridot contained the forces of nature and used cups encrusted with this gemstone to achieve communion with their nature gods. An interesting revelation is that the gemstones worn by Queen Cleopatra were not Emeralds as it was popularly believed but the Peridot.
For Greeks and Romans, Peridot was in popular use in rings and pendants. The Greeks believed that it brought royal dignity to its wearer. References to the August gemstone have also been found in the Bible, going by its Hebrew name ‘Pitdah’.
Still today Catholic bishops traditionally wear a ring of Peridot and amethyst as a symbol of purity and morality. The “topaz” on the breastplate of Aaron, High Priest of the Hebrews in the Old Testament, was believed to be Peridot. The Crusaders thought that Peridots were emeralds, and brought them back to Europe where they were featured as ornaments in churches.
Ironically, the Peridot has long been valued by pirates as a talisman to ward off evil. Peridots were a prized gem late in the Ottoman Empire. Turkish Sultans collected what is believed to be the world’s largest collection. The gold throne in Istanbul’s Topkapi museum is decorated with 955 Peridot cabochons up to 1 inch across, and there are also Peridots used as turban ornaments and on jewelled boxes.
Napoleon once made a gift of Peridot to Josephine as a symbol of undying love and admiration. The largest stone is believed to be a 310-carat gem that belongs to the Smithsonian. A 192-carat stone of fine clear olive green is part of the Russian crown jewels in the Kremlin.
The August birthstone is the stone of lightness and beauty. Peridot is said to host magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares and to bring the wearer power, influence and a wonderful year.
The August birthstone is associated with prosperity, growth, dignity and love. It is also believed that the stone has the power to ward away evil and nightmares, bestowing peace and progress in one’s life.
Discover what birthstones you can wear for other months in our "Birthstones by the Month" blog post.