Peridot olivine, August’s birthstone, is often confused with emeralds. The confusion comes from the similar color. But the peridot is an olive green rather than the blue-green of emeralds. In fact, it was discovered that the Shrine of the Three Kings, also called “Three Magi” treasure, contains peridot rather than emeralds.
Records show the peridot is one of the oldest mined gemstones. It dates back as early as 1500 B.C. in Egypt and the Middle East. Peridot is found on the high priest’s breastplate in the Book of Exodus. The breastplate holds 12 stones, each representing the 12 tribes of Israel.
Peridot was mined in the ancient world on St. John’s Island (Topazos Island / Zabargad) in the Red Sea. It is believed the gem was mined on the island for 3500 years. Then the island disappeared from history only to be rediscovered in 1905. Mining on the island stopped at the end of World War II.
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The Peridot, like the diamond, is found deep in the earth’s crust. Other gemstones are formed in the Earth’s crust rather than deep in the mantle. The peridot starts its formation deep in the magma. It is brought to the Earth’s surface through volcanic activity.
Olivine is chemically unstable and tends to form in crystals on the Earth’s surface. Large crystals are cut into peridots gemstones. These larger crystals are rare and considered precious.
Today, peridot is mined in Burma, Pakistan, Arizona, New Mexico, Vietnam, and China. The quality of peridot from each location differs from very fine to commercial grade.
Legends hold the peridot holds many magical and healing powers. It was thought to prevent anxiety, increase communication, and protect against nightmares. Some believed the stone was capable of granting power and determining a good year for the holder.
Further, peridot was believed to break enchantments, ward against evil, and cure asthma.
Hawaiian legends tell that the peridot are Pele’s tears because they are brought to the surface by volcanos. This is the full history of the Hawaiian Legend of Pele. She is known as the Fire Goddess, creator of the Hawaiian Islands.
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The peridot ranges in color from a lime-green, yellow-green, to an olive-green. It is frequently found in many types of jewelry and gemstone combinations.