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Gemstone of the Month: August

Gemstone of the Month: August

When people think about August birthstones, there is really only one that immediately springs to mind – the Peridot.  Other stones associated with the month are spinel and sardonyx but the first and foremost gemstone for August must surely be peridot.  Like diamonds, peridot crystals form in magma from the earth’s upper mantle (20 to 55 miles deep) and are brought to the surface by a tectonic or volcanic activity where they are found in extrusive igneous rock (sometimes called chimneys). Diamonds form deeper in the mantle (around 100 - 150 miles below the surface), at extreme temperatures and pressures.  Peridot is classified as a precious gemstone but, unlike diamonds, it is a much more affordable stone to buy. That said, some peridot jewellery can set you back a pretty penny!  


Now for the fun facts!

Always green and with a history dating back to the ancient Egyptians … and before!  It’s also intergalactic…  

Peridot is gem-quality olivine, itself a silicate mineral but there is some uncertainty about the origins of its name.  The Romans called it “topazus” after an island in the Red Sea where they had found it but it may also come from the Greek word “peridona” which means “to give riches”.  Alternatively the French word “peritot” means “unclear” (not a favourite alternative!) and the Oxford English Dictionary suggests an alteration of Anglo-Norman pedoretés, a kind of opal, although it could also come from the Arabic word “faridot” which simply means gem.

The earliest use in England is in the register of the St Albans Abbey, in Latin, and its translation in 1705 is possibly the first use of "peridot" in English.  It records that on his death in 1245, Bishop John bequeathed various items including peridot to the Abbey. 

Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in only one colour: an olive-green, although the colour of individual gems can vary from yellow, to olive, to brownish-green.  Peridot crystals have even been collected from some meteorites!  This gemstone also goes by the name chrysolite which comes from Ancient Greek and means “golden stone” so called because the gemstone seemed to have flashes of gold in it. 

Crystals of peridot emit a warm and friendly energy.  They are thought by many to bring good fortune.  Since the 1990s, China has been one of the largest producers of peridot gemstones, where there is a traditional belief that they promote prosperity and success.

Peridot is the stone to wear to improve your chances of making your dreams a reality. 

The Ancient Egyptians loved this gemstone and would often use it as an amulet; they called it “Gem of the Sun”.  A popular amulet was a peridot stone with an illustration of a torch engraved in it.  This particular amulet was believed to attract prosperity and riches.

The Ancient Romans called peridot “The Evening Emerald”.

Further afield, peridot is sacred to the goddess Pele, the Hawaiian volcano and fire goddess. This goddess is also the creator of the Hawaiian Islands according to mythology.  There is actually a beach in Oahu which has green sand. It is covered with very tiny particles of olivines/peridots.  According to mythology these grains of green sand are the tears of the goddess.  However, visitors beware: it is forbidden to remove any of these green sand ‘tears’ from the beach!

Peridot is the birthstone for Leos and Virgoans in August and September, for Scorpios in October and for Capricorns in December, as well as being the gemstone associated with the 16th Wedding Anniversary.

Finally, in 2003 scientists made an amazing discovery: peridot was found on the planet Mars – how surprising is that!


Keep an eye out for Kristaval’s Peridot pieces as you scroll through our pages…

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