Peridot, August’s Birthstone
Most people know that every month has a birthstone, but did you know that wedding anniversaries also have coloured gemstones associated with them? Peridot, a stunning green gemstone is August’s birthstone, and it’s also a traditional sixteenth wedding anniversary gift.
Always green, peridots can vary in shade from yellowish-green to brownish, this is the result of iron saturation within the stone. The most beautiful and sought after peridots contain less than 15% iron and are a clear, bright and beautiful shade of lime or olive green.
Like diamonds, peridots are formed deep within the earth and are brought to the earth’s surface by volcanic eruptions. A small number of peridots also arrive on earth via meteorites, but these are extremely rare, generally of poor quality, and are more likely to be found in a museum than a jewellery store.
Peridot Folklore and Meaning
Most gemstones have folklore associated with them and peridot is said to offer protection from nightmares, and to bring magical powers and healing properties to anyone who wears it. In ancient Eqypt, even the poorest citizens strung peridots on donkey hair and wore them tied around their left arm to protect them from evil spirits. Peridot is also associated with love, truth, faithfulness and loyalty.
Peridot Origin and History
Peridot has been mined since ancient times, and has often been mistaken for emerald. Some historians think that Cleopatra’s infamous emerald collection was in fact peridot! And for centuries, people believed that the large (200 carat!) green gemstone decorating the Three Holy Kings shrine in Cologne, Germany was an opulent emerald, but now we know that it is in fact, a peridot.
In ancient times, the main source of peridot was Topazo Island in the Red Sea, which is now known as Zabargad or St. John’s Island. Today, most peridot is mined in Arizona, though China, Myanmar and Pakistan also produce peridot.
Peridots of less than three carats are very common, but they can be found in sizes up to fifteen carats or even larger. Peridots larger than five carats are more expensive per carat than their smaller counterparts, however, large peridots can comprise a stunning piece of jewellery at a surprisingly affordable price when compared to emeralds.
We’ve recently acquired this stunning Victorian era pendant, which presents a gorgeous, vibrantly coloured, ten carat, emerald cut peridot within its original 18 carat yellow gold and silver setting. The intricate setting is beautifully embellished with pearls and 1.38 carats of rose cut diamonds. This antique piece was handmade in the 1880s and is a fine example of antique peridot jewellery from the Victorian era.
Peridot has been a popular choice of stone in fine jewellery since the mid-1800s. Peridot jewellery was extremely fashionable in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, due in part to King Edward VII declaring peridot his favourite gemstone.
In the first years of the 1900s, English suffragettes began using the colours green, white and violet to symbolise their movement’s ideals: green for hope, white for purity, and violet for freedom and dignity. Combined, the first letters of each colour were an acronym for ‘Give Women the Vote’. These colours were used in sashes and clothing, but more subtly in jewellery, enabling women to make their views known to fellow suffragists, without tipping off their husbands. Many of these pieces were set with peridots and are highly collectible examples of antique peridot jewellery.
In 1912, peridot became the August birthstone and since then, it’s become a popular gift for August birthdays. Modern peridot jewellery includes rings, pendants, bracelets and earrings in all price ranges.
This classic peridot and diamond ring centres a 2.60 carat peridot within a 1.40 carat diamond halo… it would make a bride of sixteen years or an August born lady very happy!
Care and Cleaning of Peridot Jewellery
Peridot is rated 6.5 – 7.0 on the Mohs hardness scale, compared to diamonds’ rating of 10, and emeralds’ rating of 7.5.
Peridot does not react well to heat or sudden temperature changes, and should never be steam cleaned or cleaned in an ultrasonic machine. Instead, it should be gently scrubbed using a jewellery cleaning solution and a soft brush.
Because peridot is a relatively soft stone, peridot pieces should always be stored away from other jewellery to avoid scratches and nicks.
Looking for that special piece of peridot jewellery?
In addition to one of a kind pieces of vintage and antique peridot jewellery like that wonderful Victorian era pendant and that classic peridot and diamond ring, we also offer a bespoke service.
If you’re looking for a unique and memorable gift to mark your sixteenth wedding anniversary, or for someone who was born in August or who simply loves peridot, we invite you to stop into our Hatton Garden shop to see what we have, and what we can create.