Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Peridot, the Tears of a Goddess


Birthstone Series - August: Peridot, Sardonyx and Spinel

According to the American Gem Society, the month of August is the latest month to claim not two but three birthstones: Peridot, Sardonyx and Spinel, now joining June and December as the only months represented by three gems.

All three of these stones have been seen throughout history and have rich symbolism. They are all quite different, both in terms of quality and substance, as well as perceived metaphysical and mystic healing properties.

Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, also known as
Ka Wahine Ai Honua (The Woman Who Devours the Land)
Peridot, by far the most popular of the three, is the rare gem-quality variety of the common mineral olivine, which forms deep inside the earth's mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. In Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess of fire who controls the flow of lava. Rarely, peridot is also found inside meteorites. In the 1700s, a meteorite that landed in Siberia contained many peridot crystals that were large enough to be used for jewelry.

Peridot’s color, a distinctive signature lime green, comes from the composition of the mineral itself, rather than from trace impurities as with many other gems. That’s why this is one of the few stones that only comes in one color, though shades may vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish-green, depending on how much iron is present.

Arizona Peridot and Banded Agate
Necklace set in Sterling Silver
(ADORA by Simona design)
Many scholars agree that the name Peridot is rooted in the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” Perhaps that’s why peridot is associated with prosperity and good fortune.

Most of the world’s peridot supply comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Other sources are China, Myanmar, Pakistan and Africa. Peridot only measures 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, so while the raw crystal is prone to cracking during cutting, the finished gemstones are fairly robust and easy to wear.

Also known as “the Evening Emerald” because its sparkling green hue looks brilliant any time of day, peridot is said to possess healing properties that protect against nightmares and evil, ensuring peace and happiness.

The largest peridot ever found weighs 319 carats and it can be viewed on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Sardonyx combines alternating layers of sard and onyx - two types of the layered mineral chalcedony - to create a reddish zebra-striped stone with white bands. Used as a stone of strength and protection since ancient times, sardonyx is associated with courage, happiness, and clear communication. Some believe that placing sardonyx at each corner of a house will grant protection against evil.

Spinel. Before the rise of modern gemology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Spinel was often identified as corundum because it tends to resemble either a ruby or sapphire, and they are often found in the same mines. In fact, some of the most famous rubies in history have turned out to be spinel. Large red gems, such
Spinel, in all its beautiful colors
as the “Black Prince’s Ruby” and the “Timur Ruby” in the Crown Jewels of England have confirmed to be large red spinels. Nevertheless, spinel is chemically distinct, what sets it apart from other gems is its octahedral crystal structure and single refraction. Having a rating of 8, spinel also has a lower Mohs hardness than ruby and sapphire.

Vivid red is the most desirable color of spinel gemstones, followed by cobalt blue, bright pink and bright orange. The more affordable stones are often those with paler colors, like lavender. You may also find spinel in black, violet blue, greenish blue, grayish, pale pink, mauve, yellow or brown. So many choices!

Happy Birthday to all of those born in August!

Information sources and images:  American Gem Society and Gem Select. Thank you!  

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