August birthday girls, you’ve got pretty peridot as your birthstone. Ever wonder what’s behind all the green glam? Here is some peridot history and lore to arm you with plenty of fun facts when you drop hints to the gift givers this year.
PERIDOT, FUN FACTS
Peridot, the gem form of the mineral olivine, traces its jewelry roots back more than 3,500 years. It was first mined by the ancient Egyptians on the island of Zebargad in the Red Sea. Zebargad was known as the “serpent isle” because it was infested with snakes that interfered with mining activity until one Pharaoh finally had them all driven into the sea.
Found in various shades of green, peridot is most prized in lime hues. The Romans called peridot “evening emerald” because its green color was said to glow at night. The gem was also used to decorate medieval churches and was most likely carried back to Europe by the Crusaders. Large peridots of more than 200 carats in size adorn the shrine of the three magi at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.
Small crystals have been found in volcanic rock – in fact, Hawaiian legend called peridot the divine tears wept by Pele, goddess of the volcano. Samples of the gem also have been discovered in meteors that have fallen to earth.
The ancients believed that peridot had the power to ward off evil spirits, nightmares and enchantments. It was also used as a medical remedy to treat asthma and other ailments. Its power was considered most potent when the stone was set in gold. Peridot was also said to strengthen any medicine drunk from goblets carved from the stone.
Most of today’s peridot is mined by Native Americans on the Carlos Reservation in Arizona. It is also mined in Brazil, China, Egypt, Germany, Hawaii, Italy, Norway, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. A new deposit was discovered in Pakistan in 1994, yielding some of the finest peridot ever seen. Numerous fine, large crystals were discovered, including one stone of more than 300 carats.
Peridot’s relative affordability and lively green color has made it a popular substitute for those who cannot afford emeralds. The birthstone for August, peridot is also the recommended gem for couples celebrating their 16th wedding anniversary.
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