THE AUGUST BIRTHSTONE IS
“OUT OF THIS WORLD”
by Britt Caffarena
More Americans are born in August than any other month according to the National Center for Health Statistics. So why isn’t the peridot, this month’s birthstone, one of the most popular and collected? After many years as a retail jeweler I’ve seen countless teens wrinkle their noses when they first see the yellow-green hue of this stone. Crayola hasn’t exactly popularized this sophisticated little gem of a color with crayon names such as “iguana”, “grass”, “lime” or even “screamin green”. Nevertheless peridot, which is pronounced both as “per-ə-dät” OR “per-ə-do”, is fascinating! It is the gem form of the mineral Olivine. Among one of the oldest known gemstones it is believed to be one of the 12 jewels set into the breastplate of Aaron, High Priest of the Hebrews in the Old Testament and a favorite gem worn by Cleopatra. It embellishes Roman and Greek adornments, golden thrones of the Ottoman Empire and Russian crown jewels. The Smithsonian houses one of the largest faceted specimen at 311.80 carats, which seems relatively small compared to the largest faceted diamond weighing 545.67 carats.
Like diamonds, peridot is created deep within the Earths mantle and brought up through volcanic activity. Historically there have been multiple sources worldwide. Today one of the largest and most productive sources is The San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona where they are often still mined by hand. According to the American Gem Society, Hawaiian mythology calls these gems the “Tears of Pele”- the Goddess of Fire and Volcanoes. On the Big Island there are even glittering green beaches rich in peridot where natives perform healing ceremonies.
So what makes the August birthstone “out of this world”? Peridot is also extraterrestrial. It can also be brought to earth in unique meteorites called pallasites. These iron-rich objects were formed along with the planets of our solar system and they remained suspended in asteroid belts until they crashed to earth. Experts estimate that there are only 50 known examples of pallasites discovered to date. A quick search proves that small pieces of these celestial gems are available for purchase. Some vendors advertise slices of meteor with peridot /olivine imbedded in the core while others offer rare expensive faceted pieces.
If this lime green color still leaves you sour…well, just give it a little time. The Pantone Color Institute, a global authority in color forecasting in fashion and interiors, has just come out with its designer color palette for Fall/Winter 2016/2017. Peridot green is coming soon to EVERY store near you!