August Birthstone:The Peridot

Peridot is the modern August birthstone and the gem designated for the 16th wedding anniversary. 
Peridot (pronounced pair-a-dot) is a transparent yellowish-green Magnesium/Iron Silicate. It is a gem variety of the mineral Chrysolite or Olivine and its chemical formula is given by: (Mg,Fe)2SiO4.
Peridot ranges in color from light yellow-green to the intense bright green of new spring grass to olive. Because of the way peridot splits and bends the rays of light passing through it, it has a velvety appearance, a rich glow, and a slightly greasy luster. The purer green a peridot is the higher the value. Any tinges of brown or visible flaws greatly diminish the price.

The best-colored peridot has an iron percentage of less than 15% and includes nickel and chromium as trace elements.
It is not clear whether the word peridot comes from the Arabic word faridat, which means gem or if it is derived from the French word peritot which means unclear. The French were the first to call this yellow-green stone peridot in the 18th century. Before then, peridot was known as topaz. Peridot has been mined as a gemstone for an estimated four thousand years and is mentioned in the Bible under the Hebrew name of pitdah. It was used by the Egyptians as early as 1500 BC and was considered the gem of the sun.
Early miners looked for peridot at night because they believed that light from the moon made the crystals easier to find. After marking the locations of the crystals they came back in the daylight to dig them up.
Gem quality peridot comes from Zagbargad Island in the Red Sea, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Australia, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Pakistan, and Arizona and Hawaii in the USA.
The best quality peridot has historically come either from Myanmar or Egypt but in 1994 a new deposit of peridot was discovered in Pakistan which produces some of the finest stones. This mine is located in the Nanga Parbat region in the far west of the Himalayan Mountains in the Pakistani part of Kashmir. Large crystals have been found in this area, one stone was more than 300 carats.
Most of the world production of peridot comes from Arizona where there is an abundant source of lessor quality material while peridot from Myanmar, Pakistan and Egypt is more rare and finer quality. Price for stones from these areas will be higher and similar to prices for other top quality colored gems.

The most unusual olive green gem is that which comes from meteorites called pallasites. Moldavite is found in the Czech Republic and believed to have arrived from space in a meteor about 14.8 million years ago. Because this stone contains crystals of olivine and has a similar color it is often confused with peridot. Some of these extraterrestrial gems are very beautiful though and have been faceted and set into jewelry.
Peridot gems were probably used in the fabled Breastplates of the Jewish High Priest and historical legend says that peridot was the favorite gemstone of Cleopatra, although at the time they were called emeralds.
Peridot has been confused with emeralds although peridot, being a more yellow or olive color, is a completely different shade of green than an emerald. Other green gemstones that may be confused with peridot are apatite, green garnets and moldavite.
Peridot is considered a tonic for the whole body and protects the wearer from negativity. It is associated with stress reduction and relaxation. Egyptians used peridot to clean and heal the heart. Powdered peridot has been used to cure asthma and a peridot placed under the tongue of someone in the grip of a fever is said to lessen his or her thirst. One legend says that drinking from a peridot goblet will increase the potency of medicines. Further research indicates that ancient Indo-Iranians, and Vedic and Persian cultures may have used cups carved from Peridot for their ritual drink of Soma.


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