Early civilization as far back as the Assyrians (1400 BC) invested rare and beautiful gemstones with magical properties. Some minerals were thought to contain a force or possess certain values and powers. For instance, amethyst was said to prevent intoxication. Tradition associates a gem with each sign of the zodiac based on a color system. Color was thought to unleash the power attributed to the birthstone. In time, birthstones became associated with calendar months rather than the zodiac. And people began to select birthstones in colors other than the original.
The idea that certain birthstones were associated with certain months goes back at least to the 1st century CE. Oddly enough, the idea of wearing one's birthstone; that is, wearing a piece of jewelry containing the gemstone associated with the month one was born in; appears to be much more recent. George Frederick Kunz, in The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, states that the custom began in Poland during the 18th century. The wearing of your birthstone is traditionally thought to be lucky. Thus, if you were born in the month of August, and you wear a peridot, you should attract good fortune. Peridot is the accepted birthstone for August. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 16th year of marriage.
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.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. 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.
The ancients believed that it had the power to dissolve enchantments and to drive evil spirits away. Peridot was even able to strengthen the power of any medicine drunk from goblets carved from the gemstone. For peridot to exert its full powers as a talisman, it had to be set in gold, and when worn in this way, it was thought to dispel the terrors of the night. When used as protection against the wiles of evil spirits, peridot was pierced and then strung on the hair of a donkey, and attached to the left arm. In powder, peridot was used as a remedy for asthma. When held under the tongue, it was believed to lessen the thirst in fever. Many beautiful examples of peridot were brought back from the Mediterranean area during the Crusades and used to decorate European cathedrals, where they still remain.
Peridot should be a lively lime green, without a brownish or olive cast.
Peridot is the child of volcanic action. Tiny peridot crystals are sometimes combed from the black sands of Hawaii.
Peridots were favored by pirates, considered powerful amulets against all evil, and when set in gold, were said to protect the wearer from the terrors of the night. They had medicinal uses, too. If fashioned into a chalice from which medicines were drunk, they intensified the effects of the drug.
Care should be taken to protect peridot from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals and extreme temperature changes. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine for cleaning. Also be aware of protecting the mounting. Household chemicals may discolor or damage the mounting. Chlorine (pools and hot tubs) are something to be cautious of while wearing any jewelry.
Peridot is abundant, and is available in larger sizes. However it is rarer in larger sizes therefore prices climb quickly as the carat weight increases. It is found in Burma and the United States.
The most important source of peridot in the world is the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation near Globe, Arizona, where it is mined by Native Americans.
Large sizes are mined in Myanmar (Burma) and peridot is also found in China.