What are birthstones? Who decided which stones for which month? It appears the first connection to birthstones may be from the Bible. In the breastplate of the Aaron, there were twelve specific gems representing each of Israel’s twelve tribes, and this was possibly the first, ever “mother’s ring.”
“It was square — a span [22 centimeters] long and a span wide — and folded double. Then they mounted four rows of precious stones on it. In the first row there was a ruby, a topaz and a beryl; in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and an emerald; in the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. They were mounted in gold filigree settings. There were twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.” (Old Testament, New International Version, Exodus, Chapter 39, vs. 9-14)
Due to my intense interest in the folklore and history of gemstones, not to mention a curiosity for the many uses of gemstones in health, energy, luck, and healing, I’ve decided to spend some time researching various stones. This will be the first of 12 monthly posts related to a specific gemstone AND a monthly give-away.
Peridot is birthstone for August and the stone given to celebrate the 16th year of marriage. It is a great stone to start with because it’s been around for thousands of years and has quite a history. It comes from the actual core of the earth, which is why it is often found in lava fields. Peridot is basically an olive green but the shade of the green depends on how much iron is in stone, so the color may vary from greens with a yellowish tone to a darker, more brownish green. The most valuable is considered a dark-olive green color.
Ancient records indicate that these stones were used as early as 1500 BC. The Egyptians carved talismans from peridot and one of the few stones that could actually be searched for at night. Miners searched for the gemstones after dark, as well as, in the daytime because of their natural nighttime glow. The miners would mark the spot at night and return the following day to collect them.
Legends also tell us that peridot was a favorite gemstone of Cleopatra and that some of the “emeralds” worn by her were actually peridot. In the Bible, the armor of Solomon and Aaron, Moses’ brother and the High Priest of the Israelites, was said to have peridot among the 12 stones to help protect them from wounds and death in battle. In the middle ages, Europeans brought peridot stones back from the Crusades to decorate church plates and robes.
Throughout history, there have been many legends claiming peridot has strong magical powers. One such legend says that if the peridot is set in gold, “it will develop its full potential as a talisman and will have the power to dispel terrors of the night- fears and bad dreams.” According to Marbodei as mentioned in De Lapidibus, however: “If it were to be used as a protection from the wiles of evil spirits, it has to be pierced and strung on the hair of an ass and then attached to the left arm.”
Peridot is quite well-known for its mystical properties and has been long considered to be an aid to friendship and supposedly frees the mind of envious thoughts. It is said to protect the wearer from the evil eye. Other legends credit peridot with bringing happiness and good cheer, attracting lovers, and strengthening the eyes. Pliny wrote “peridot is dull during daylight hours but will glow like a hot coal by night.”
To enter, make a comment to this post and your name will go in the hat for this month’s prize, a stunning pair of Swarovski crystal earrings – peridot color, sterling silver posts, and peridot nugget dangles. The drawing will be August 15th, 2010. Be sure to include your first name and last initial in the comment.