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Happy Summer! Beautiful Peridot...

The Peridot, the modern August birthstone, is a cool green gem that was known to the Ancient Egyptians as the "Gem of the Sun". Maybe that is why the National Association of Jewelers decided to assign the Peridot to the the wonderfully hot sunny days of August.

Traditionally it is the stone given to celebrate the 16th year of marriage as well as having the honor of being the National Gem of Egypt. It is associated with light, happiness, and confidence.

Physical Properties

The Peridot is the gem variety of the mineral Olivine, which is a magnesium-iron silicate. It is found in various hues of green. It can also be found in a greenish-brown color, though rarely. The varieties of green color are attributed to the levels of chromium and iron in the stone.

A transparent gem with a vitreous and greasy luster, it has a Mohs hardness of 6.5 - 7.0. This is why you must be careful when storing with other harder gems such as diamonds and sapphires.

The most prized and beautiful Peridot are found on St. John Island in Egypt, although the mines on the island have been nearly depleted. Most Peridot seen today come from mines in China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Arizona, USA.


The Peridot was discovered in Egypt thousands of years ago with the first mine on the Egyptian island of Topazios, also known as the Island of Zabargad or St. Johns Island. Papyri from as early as 1500 BC have been shown to record the mining of these stones in Egypt. Cleopatra herself laid claim to the Island of Zabargad so she could keep all the gems to herself believing they were emeralds.

The Arizona deposits have been attributed to volcanic eruptions from thousands of years ago. Rivers of lava spilled over the desert of what is today the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Theses mines have been worked by Apache families for decades and 80%-90% of all commercially available peridot come from these mines in Arizona.

Egypt and Arizona are not the only earthly sources of Peridot. Some deposits have been attributed to remnants of crashed meteorites. The Stardust project by NASA was launched in 1999 and returned to earth in 2006 bringing with it samples of space dust. Scientists found olivine and peridot in the space dust. Samples of the mineral have also been found in the comets Wild2 and Tempel1 which orbit the earth.

Peridot have been confused with many other stones, mainly Emeralds. In candlelight, Peridot can glisten and can seem to be just as green as Emeralds. The 200-ct gems that adorn the shrine of the Three Holy Kings in the Cologne Cathedral in Germany were thought to be emeralds. It was discovered in the 19th century, with sophisticated chemical analysis, these stones are actually peridot, albeit, beautiful ones at that!

Peridot has been long considered to be an aid to friendship and supposedly frees the mind of envious thoughts as it protects the wearer from the evil eye. Other legends credit peridot with bringing happiness and good cheer, attracting lovers, and strengthening the eyes. If draped over the belly of a pregnant woman, it is said to have a calming effect on childbirth pains.

In the middle ages, Europeans brought peridot stones back from the Crusades to decorate church plates and robes. Peridot was also known to ancient Hebrews and is listed both as one of the stones used by Aaron and found in the text of the apocalypse (Revelations).


  • It is believed that many, if not all, of Cleopatra's famous Emerald collection were actually Peridots.

  • Conditions on the Island of Zabargad were so harsh, the island was given the nicknames the "Island of Death" and "Ophiodes" (Snake Island).

  • The stone was so highly prized that watchers of the island had orders to put to death any trespassers.

  • The Peridot has been discovered on papyri from as early as 1500 BC

  • Peridot has been widely accepted to ward away night terrors and bad dreams when set in gold.

  • The peridot seems to do everything related to happiness. It can help with depression, fear, self-esteem, and calms the nervous system. All in all, the stone sharpens the mind and opens it to new levels of awareness.

Fun Facts

  • The name "Peridot" comes from the Arabic word "faridat" meaning gem.

  • Peridot is the National Gem of Egypt

  • The stone was mines for 3500 years in Egypt before the location of the Island in the Red Sea, which was such a highly guarded secret, was lost. Only to be rediscovered in 1905.

  • The Peridot has been discovered on papyri from as early as 1500 BC

  • In 2005, peridot was found in comet dust brought back from the Stardust robotic space probe.

  • About 80% - 90% of all commercial quality Peridot is mined in the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, USA

  • The largest cut Peridot is 311.8 ct. It was discovered on St. Johns Island in Egypt and is currently housed in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

  • There is no known treatment to improve the color or clarity of peridot, so it is always an untreated gem

So wear Peridot because you were born in August, to bring you happiness and self confidence, ward against night terrors, or just because it is a beautiful green gem that looks amazing in gold!

Until next time, when we look at the September birthstone, the Sapphire which can be found in almost every color under the sun.


The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe

The "Golden" Guide of Rocks, Gems and Minerals by Herbert S. Zim and Paul R. Shaffer

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