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August Birthstone is Peridot

Never heard of August’s birthstone, peridot? Neither had most of the world until about 1995. Which is too bad since its wonderful green color is the perfect compliment to late summer tans and light flowing summer wardrobes.

It’s odd, too, since peridot is a very ancient gemstone, a favorite of the Egyptians and Romans. Cleopatra may have been one of its earliest fans. No doubt because peridot is one of the very few gemstones that are found in only one color, and that color is always the same, even in artifical light. The Romans believed it had magical powers and could protect against nightmares. They even called it ‘emerald of the night’.

But whatever the reason, after ancient times, peridot gradually drifted out of style, and in the fashion business, out of style means out of mind.

Until, as I said, around 1995. That’s when peridot deposits were discovered in Pakistan, in the Kashmir region, in a mountain pass about 4000 meters up. Unlike other deposits through the ages, this one was spectacular. The stones were easily the largest and most transparent, more beautiful than anyone had ever seen. And suddenly after hundreds of years, these ‘Kashmir peridots’ were all the rage at gemstone fairs around the wold. Luckily, the deposits were so rich that even the increased demand caused by their beauty could be easily fufilled.

Like any rock star (sorry, couldn’t resist) peridot has more than one name. It’s also known as ‘chrysolite’, from the Greek ‘gold stone’, and ‘olivine’, because that’s the mineral it comes from. ‘Peridot’ means ‘to give richness’.

Categories: American Gem Society, This month's birth stone