August- the peridot
Fishermen from Egypt, blown off-course in storms on the Red Sea, sought shelter on an island they called Topazin, which translates as “to seek”. There they found a golden green gemstone. The gem was Peridot, the island was called St. John’s, and these beautiful gems were mined from the walls of caves and rock faces, for over 3,500 years.
In the 3rd century BC, a spectacular peridot was found on the island and carved into a 6 foot statue of the Ptolemaic queen Arsinoe. It was brought to Europe by the Crusaders over 1,500 years later and was used to decorate ecclesiastical and religious objects. The largest polished peridot weighs 310 carats and can be seen in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
Peridot became fashionable during the Baroque period and then again, during the reign of Queen Victoria when improved manufacturing techniques encouraged designers to experiment with intricate designs, influenced by the jewellers of the ancient world.
Peridot was once called Chrysolite, the Greek word for “gold stone” and a loose description that covered many other green stones. Today they are found in Burma, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and the USA.