As you read this - I am at Bead Fest in Philly. I am selling, buying, chatting, teaching... and there may be coffee and wine in there somewhere too. Please enjoy this post; it was the first in a series of folklore/birthstone pieces I wrote for Beads of Clay. I look forward to reprising these, and finishing the zodiac here on AJE!
Peridot, the August birthstone...
|Image credit: The Collector|
The green of summer! Lush plants blooming in the sunshine! Peridot gets its green color from iron, and is always green. Its a fragile stone ( 6.5 on the Moh's scale) softer than all of the other translucent gems; only one step harder than glass! Its formed from olivine, and like diamonds is formed under the Earths's crust - brought to light by volcanic activity.
The name stems from the Greek "Peridona" meaning plentiful. This refers to the attributes of peridot - not its availability. It was believed to protect the wearer from evil spirits and adversity. It is believed to be a stone of increase, bringing warmth, prosperity and well being to the wearer.
|My peridot palette: Peridot chips in the center, paired with my ceramic pendants in related hues and silks from Marsha Neal Studio.|
A few historical notes on Peridot:
- The oldest examples are Egyptian, dating back to 2000 BC. Peridot was plentiful on the island of Zabargad, off the Egyptian coast in the Red Sea.
- The Romans called peridot "Emerald of the evening" as its color is more intense in gentle light.
- Medieval metal smiths were introduced to Peridot after the Crusades "imported" goods from the Middle East. It was used in reliquaries and ecclesiastical items like the Shrine of the Magi in Cologne Cathedral. (on the left)
- Peridot is mined in Burma, China, Arizona, and Pakistan - where new mining in the 1990's created a resurgence and renewed interest in the stone.
- The largest faceted specimen? The Smithsonian in DC - toping the scales at 310 carats! (opening pix)
- In 2003 NASA observed large areas of the planet Mars covered in peridot! So much for the 'red' planet...
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think and how you used peridot in your designs.
- Jewels: a Secret History by V. Finlay
- The Curious Lore of Precious Stones by G. F. Kunz
- The Book of Stones by R. Simmons & N. Ashian