Birthstone Series: August’s Peridot

This post is the second in a series of twelve discussing the creation and meaning of the different birthstones. The concept of birthstones dates to the Breastplate of Aaron described in the Bible. The breastplate was a ceremonial religious piece of armor set with twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel and corresponding with the twelve months of the year.

August is one of the 3 months of the year that has 3 birthstones. Sardonyx originally represented the month but peridot, which became the month’s main birthstone, was later added along with spinel. In this article, we will discuss Peridot because it is the month’s main gem.

Peridot Origin

Although the origin of the gem’s name is unclear, there is a general consensus among scholars that the name is derived from the Arabic word “faridat” which means “gem”. Peridot is a rare variety of the common mineral olivine, which forms deep in the earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface through volcanic eruptions.The gem’s olive color comes from its composition rather than from the presence of trace minerals as is the case with other gems. Because of this, peridot is one of the few gems that comes in one color, though with shades varying from yellowish-green to brownish-green, depending on the quantity of iron present.

Peridot Meaning

Peridot, like many other gems, is thought to bring its wearer power and influence. Different cultures have different interpretations of peridot. In Ancient Egypt, the gem was known as the “gem of the sun” and was believed to protect the wearer from nightmares. In Hawaii, when a volcano erupts, small clumps of molten lava can fuse into tear-like drops of volcanic glass. These pieces of volcanic glass are known as tears of Pele, the volcano goddess. Because the volcanic eruptions bring peridot up from the earth’s mantle, peridot is seen as a gift from Pele.

How to Wear Peridot

Peridot is an incredibly fine, but underutilized gem. The gem is also known as the “Evening Emerald” because it maintains its sparkling green hue even at night, when less light enters the gem. Because of that, it makes for some fantastic evening jewelry. Also, as the Hawaiians noticed, it pairs very well with tanned skin because the gem is so bright. Peridot makes the perfect accent to any earth-toned outfit.

Inspired by history and fantastic story of peridot? At Joseph Gann Jewelers, we feature a beautiful collection of peridot jewelry at both our Boston, MA location. Have questions? Feel free to stop by our store or contact us here. We’d love to chat and answer any questions you might have.