Peridot is famous for its characteristic and vibrant green colour. It is similarly well known for being the gem stone associated with the month of August. Where peridot comes from, how it came to represent the month of august and much of Peridots lore is far less well known. So, this being Peridots month, we thought wed shed a little light on the mythology and origins of this little gem of a stone.
Peridot Lore and Mythology
Speaking of shedding light, the ancient Egyptians once donned the peridot the gem of the sun and believed that it was imbued with powers to dispel bad dreams and ward off evil spirits. Egyptian priests, notably those of Isis, were even known to crush peridots up and add them to hot beverages, believing that the taking of peridot had the power to bring them closer to nature and the light of the world. It is even believed amongst some historians that at least part of Cleopatras famous Emerald Collection may have actually been comprised of peridot.
Interestingly, the name Peridot derives from the French word peritot which means gold as some examples of the gem can vary towards gold in colour, and perhaps explains why the Egyptians first made the association between peridot and light.
Peridot forms, like many minerals, deep within the earths layers and is also said to have been present in meteors that have over the course of history hit earth. Before it came to be mined, volcanic eruptions were responsible for forcing pieces of the mineral to the earths surface where it was then discovered by man.
The mining of peridot is said to have first began by the Egyptians who discovered its existence on Topazios, an island in the Red Sea. Topazios, though now better known as the island of St. John or simply Zabargad, may sound familiar as it also lends its name to the mineral topaz. Ancient Egyptians were told to have ventured to the island of Topazios specifically to mine peridot and it was a job considered fraught with danger. Legend tells that Topazios was an island teaming with snakes until an unnamed Pharaoh of the time successfully managed to drive the serpents into the sea, so permitting the Egyptians to mine the islands stores of peridot and topaz safely.
These days, peridot is mined in a number of regions across the globe, most notably in numerous parts of the Australia, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Norway, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Burma and Tanzania. It is also mined in numerous parts of the USA, such as Arkansas, Arizona, Hawaii and Nevada.
Peridot the August Birthstone
Peridot came to officially represent the month of august in 1912, when the American National Association of Jewellers adopted the stone as such. Rather unromantically, stones were adopted or assigned to months by the American Association of Jewellers in an effort to standardise birthstones. Later, in 1937, The British published their own list of official birthstones, on which Peridot remained the August birthstone.
Hence, today we take it for granted that peridot represents august. That said, why peridot was decided the birthstone of August is a matter of speculation. Perhaps because of its green colour, peridot seemed a fitting stone to celebrate the summer month of August. Perhaps it was more the simple matter that almost fifty years before the American Association of Jewellers compiled their birth stone list, Tiffany & Co. Had, in 1870, already published a pamphlet poem advertisement which helped to a large extent to formalise and cement the idea of birthstones, and which stone should represent which month. Of the verse, the quatrain dedicated to August unequivocally stated:
Wear a Peridot or for thee,
No conjugal fidelity,
The August born without this stone,
`Tis said, must live unloved alone.'
To learn more about peridot there is a wealth of fascinating information available via the International Coloured Gemstone Association website. Meanwhile, if you were born in August and are keen to avoid living alone and unloved, do take a look at the peridot jewellery currently available in our store!