art by Rachel Anderson


If fire appears to leap from the vibrant green surface of the Peridot, this may be because this gem is formed as a result of volcanic activity. Many years ago, natives discovered Peridot crystals in the black sands of Hawaii, explaining their presence as tears shed by Pele, the volcano goddess. Throughout history, August's birthstone has been used as a means to connect with nature. Early Egyptian priests drank a stimulating beverage called Soma from cups made of Peridot, believing this practice to draw them closer to Isis, the goddess of nature.

The name Peridot comes from the Arabic word "faridat," meaning gem. Ancient Egyptians called them the "gem of the sun," because of their dazzling brilliance when seen in the desert sun. It was believed that the Peridot glowed with light even as darkness fell, which is why miners were said to have scouted for these gems during the night, marking their location, and returning in the light of day to retrieve them. Perhaps this legendary mining method is the reason that the Peridot is sometimes called "evening emerald."

Peridot is a mineral named Olivine, which is found in a variety of greens, ranging from light yellowish green to a dark olive. Early mining for this gem was done on Saint John's Island near Egypt around 1500 BC. The green crystal was considered protective against evil and when set in gold, especially helpful against night terrors. It was ground to powder and used as a remedy for asthma and as a cure for thirst brought on by fever. Today, Peridot is mined in Burma, Norway, Brazil, Australia, Hawaii, the Congo, and in Arizona.

The Peridot is the National gem of Egypt and their love of this gemstone dates back to the Ancient Egyptians who called the Peridot “the gem of the sun.” The Ancient Egyptians discovered the presence of peridots on Topazo Island (St. John’s Island) in the Red Sea. The island was closely guarded by the ancient Egyptians who mined peridots in order that they could be given to the Pharaoh. Peridots were used by the Pharaohs and other ancient Egyptians as amulets to ward off evil. They were also included in the fabulous tombs of the ancient Egyptians who believed that they could take their treasures with them into the afterlife.
Peridots have been found in meteorites and the lava of Mount Vesuvius inn Italy and this gemstone was well known to the ancient Romans. The Romans wore them for protection from enchantment and against melancholy and illusion. It was popular for peridots to be set in gold (gold being the metal of the Sun) to dispel the vague terrors of the night.

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