Peridot - Augusts Birthstone

by Joy Jones 1 Comment

Peridot - Augusts Birthstone

Peridot the birthstone of August

The beautiful glowing gemstone, Peridot, is perfectly suited to represent the summer month of August as its natural color range reminds one of a freshly cut lawn on a summer day.   The actual word Peridot is accepted to be from the French word “Peritot”, which means unclear, since these gems often come with natural inclusions and internal fractures,  commonly called “lily pads”.   Peridot is sometimes referred to as olivine and Chrysolite is an older German word that has been used to describe Peridot, especially before the French version took over in popularity, around the eighteenth century.


The ancient Arabic word for Peridot was known as “faridat” which means “gem”.  The ancient Egyptians called this gemstone the “gem of the sun” for its association with light and its believed protective powers from “terrors of the night” and its perceived ability to ward off evil spirits.  Peridot is among the oldest known gemstones with ancient records recording the mining of Peridot as far back as 1500 BC.  Cleopatra, the infamous Queen of the Nile, was known for her elaborate emerald collection but now, many historians and ancient experts suspect that many of the “emeralds” she wore may have actually been Peridots.  Today, Peridot is still the national gem of Egypt.

Peridot Gemstone

In ancient times, Peridot was mined with slave labor in what could only have been harsh conditions.  Daytime temperatures would reach scorching levels so Peridot mining was often done at night.  Acording to legend, it was also done at night because the pale-green stones were difficult to find under a bright sunlit sky, and were much easier to find in the moonlight, which may be where its nickname of the “evening emerald” originated. 

By the middle ages, Christian crusaders raided Peridot mines and brought the gemstones back to Europe to adorn religious relics and other important ornaments of high-ranking church officials.   

Cathedral of Cologne

One large Peridot adorns the shrine of the Three Holy Kings in the cathedral at Cologne, where for centuries it was believed to have been an emerald, but has recently in modern times been identified as actually being a Peridot.

Breastplate of Aaron

Peridot is listed in the bible as one of the stones that Moses declared to be placed on the “breastplate of judgement”  worn by Aaron.  Another biblical reference to Peridot can be found in a list compiled by St. John in the first century, describing his vision of the heavenly city of Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation.


Topazos Island

Topazos Island, which is now known as St. Johns Island or Zabargad, located in the Egyptian Red Sea was a major source of ancient Peridot, having been mined in Zabargad for over 3,500 years with mining finally ending in this location around the time of WWI.  Peridot is found around the world in such places as Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, China, Zambia, Mexico, Oregon, Russia, Norway, Sri Lanka, Brazil, The Canary Islands, Hawaii, Australia, South Africa and here in the United States in New Mexico and a large percent of Peridot coming from the state of Arizona in the San Carlos Reservation area.   

San Carolos Peridot Mining

Other than Diamond, Peridot is the only other gemstone that forms in the earths mantle rather than the earths crust as most other gemstones do.


Color range of Peridot gemstones

Peridot is only found in one color and that is green, although that green is often transparent and in varying shades that range  from brownish or yellowish green to greenish yellow.  The shade of green is dependent of the amount of iron which is present in the stone with the deeper the green, the smaller the amount of iron in that stone.  The most popular color with consumers is a bright lime green or a more subdued olive green color.


Peridots are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.  They can be found in all cuts and sizes, with most stones averaging less than 5 carats, although larger stones are easily acquired


On the Mohs scale, Peridot rates 6.5 to 7 with its toughness rated as fair to good.


Peridots exposed to high heat require caution as rapid or uneven heating can cause these gems to fracture.  An important fact to keep in mind if you require any repair work to a gemstone setting.  Peridot is a stable gem under light and resists fading.  Chemicals, such as sulfuric acid can easily harm Peridot, but hydrochloric acid less so.  Over a long period of time, acid perspiration can damage Peridot.


Never put Peridot in an ultrasonic cleaner.  To do so is risky.  Likewise, never steam clean.  The safest method for cleaning Peridot is with good old-fashioned warm, soapy water.


During ancient times, Peridot was one of the most important gems spiritual leaders used.  It was often used as a talisman because it was believed to ward off anxiety and had the power to make men more articulate and was also viewed to help relationships & marriages.  In medicinal issues, Peridot was believed to help reduce fevers if placed under the tongue.  It was ground into powder for drinking to help cure asthma, digestive disorders, insomnia and was considered a soothing tonic for the nervous system.  When Peridot is set in gold and worn as jewelry, it was believed to protect the wearer from evil spirits.


Peridot has been used for centuries in jewelry design.  Below are some examples of beautiful jewels adorned with Peridot gemstones.

Georgian peridot ruby and diamond ring

Victorian peridot and diamond ring

Victorian Tiffany Peridot Diamond and Pearl Brooch

Victorian Peridot and diamond earrings

Edwardian Peridot Necklace

Art Deco Peridot Ring

Peridot, the beautiful "gem of the sun" valued not only for its rich history but also for its rich beauty.


Photo Credits:

Victorian Peridot & Diamond Ring - HH Jewels

Victorian Peridot & Diamond Earrings - Brenda Ginsberg

Edwardian Peridot & Pearl Necklace - Antique Jewellery Company

Art Deco Peridot & Diamond Ring - Fay Cullen

All other photos via Pinterest

Joy Jones
Joy Jones


1 Response

Anna Balin
Anna Balin

August 25, 2016

Wonderful and informative article on my favorite gemstone. I especially love the art deco ring. If a person were interested in estate
jewelry, art deco jewelry in particular, what field of study would you recommend? Thanks!

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