~ AUGUST ~
Peridot is named after the French word peritot, meaning gold, probably because the mineral can vary towards this color. It is the official birthstone for the month of August, may be given as a gem on the 16th wedding anniversary and is the stone for the Zodiac sign of Libra.
I have always heard this gem pronounced as “pear-a-doe” and until recently believed this was correct. An educator recently told me that the original pronunciation is actually per’i-dot. However, I think that pear-a-doe may have come into common usage, because I found two dictionaries that offer both pronunciations.
Peridot has been called “an Evening Emerald,” for under artificial light, the stone glows a brilliant green. It is similar to the emerald but softer in intensity. Peridots of two or three carats are expensive, and a fine eight-carat stone is considered extremely rare. Any stones beyond eight carats are collectors or museum pieces. Two of the finest peridot displays containing some of the largest and best specimens are in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Field Museum in Chicago. The Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC has a cut peridot stone of 310 carats.
It’s been mined as a gemstone for thousands of years and is mentioned in the Bible under the name of Chrysolite. One famous peridot on the shrine of the Three Holy Kings was believed to be an emerald for centuries, but late in the last century was identified as peridot. Many jewelry historians are now convinced that some, maybe all of the emeralds Cleopatra was famous for wearing, were not actually emeralds, but Peridots from Egypt. This emerald-looking shade of green have only been found in Egypt and Burma, where production has reached a virtual standstill in recent years.
The earliest recorded production of peridot was in about 70 A.D. from St. Johns Island in the Red Sea, off the coast of Egypt. Most of the earliest known peridot gems came from this location and small amounts of material are still being produced from there today. Later, very large, fine-quality peridot was produced from deposits in Myanmar (formerly Burma). These deposits were well known for their large cut stones of very special color and clarity. Since the socialist government came to power, the supply of Burmese peridot has been cut to such a point that they are now unimportant in the industry.
The United States has been the largest producer of peridot for years, but is now getting major competition from China and Pakistan. Until recently, the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona produced 80-95% of the world’s peridot, where exclusive mining rights are held by various Apache families. Gem quality peridot is also found in Australia, Brazil, Norway, Hawaii and has even been found in meteorites!
Throughout history, there have been many legends that state the strong magical power that peridot possesses. Legend says that if the gem is set in gold, it will develop its full potential and have the power to help relieve bad dreams. Pliny The Elder, the Great Roman authority on such things, claimed that for peridots to work their strongest magic, they must be worn on the right arm.
Peridot is the gem of spirit and expression. It is thought to bring the wearer good luck, peace, and success. Its powers include health, protection, and sleep. The advantages of peridot are to attract love and calm anger while also soothing nerves and preventing negative emotions.
Article written by Jill Quisenberry of jQ Jewelry Designs. Jill specializes in unique handmade jewelry designed with meticulous attention to detail using only high quality sterling silver, gemstones and of course, pearls.