August – Peridot
|Chemical formula:||A compound of magnesium iron silicate (Mg, Fe) 2SiO4|
|Mohs scale hardness:||6.5-7|
Origin of the Name
The name “peridot” is believed to be derived from the Arabic word ‘faridat’, which means ‘gem’, or from the Greek ‘peridona’, meaning ‘bestow wealth’.
Other names for peridot are ‘Chrysolite’, a Greek word meaning ‘goldstone’, referring to the gem’s golden shine; and Olivine, after its mineral group.
Peridot in Judaism
One of the gems embedded in the Hoshen breastplate, a ceremonial piece worn by the high priest of the ancient Israelites was Pitda. Over the year, the name has been translated into ‘Topaz’, but according to Roman author Pliny the Elder (58 AD) this topaz was a green gem, most probably peridot, which was indigenous to the area near the Land of Israel.
Characteristics: the peridot is a unique gem, in the sense that it only appears in one color – green. Its lively green color is also exclusive in the fact that it does not change under artificial light.
The peridot is a hard gem to polish because its refractive index is very low, which means the stone may shatter during the polishing process.
In the past it was believed that peridots could fight and drive away demons. Peridot is also considered helpful in easing thirst during illness. The gem’s bright green color is said to contribute to a good mood.
Peridots are considered vitality enhancers, and are said to contribute to patience, confidence and assertiveness. Peridots are considered to be good for alleviating stress, invigorating the body and mind, and helping achieve mental balance.
Peridot has been in use in the jewelry industry dating back to ancient Egypt. It was also found in jewelry dating back to Roman times.
In his book, Pliny the Elder describes a green gem named ‘prasoides’. He quoted another author – Archelaus – as saying the gem’s origins are from the Red Sea island of Chitis. And indeed, the Emerald Island, just off the Egyptian coast, was a source of peridots in ancient times.
Peridots were brought to Europe from the Middle East by the crusaders, and for a while were mistaken for emeralds. Peridots were subsequently inducted into the Church’s treasury.
Peridots are mined in Australia, Arizona, Afghanistan, Brazil, Myanmar, China and Pakistan.
Famous August birthdays
Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Napoleon Bonaparte, Yves Saint-Laurent, Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Leonard Bernstein, Madonna, Neil Armstrong, Mae West, Warren Buffett.
By: Iris Hortman, IDI Information Officer