When did peridot become August birthstone?

Gemstone quality olivine may be found in a yellowish green to a greenish yellow variant known as peridot. Peridot has been misidentified as topaz and emerald throughout history. Topazios, an island in the Red Sea from where the word "topaz" is said to have originated, mined peridot. Originally thought to be emeralds, the 200 carats of jewels adorning the Shrine of the Three Holy Kings in Germany's Cologne Cathedral are really peridots, the August birthstone. Historians are divided on whether Cleopatra's renowned emerald collection was made up of peridot.

We get the name peridot from the Arabic word for jewel, faridat. Numerous ancient and medieval societies placed a high emphasis on this August birthstone. As early as the 2nd century BCE, it was used in the jewelry of priests. Later, it was used in the chalices and cathedrals of Medieval Europe. The peridot birthstone has a long history of being used as a protective amulet against the evil eye and "night terrors." 


The August birthstone peridot is a gem with a fascinating history. Most of the peridot used in jewelry now originates in China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Tanzania, Vietnam, or the United States, but some of it made its way to Earth on meteorites, and some of it may be found in unusual places like Peridot Beach in Hawaii, where the sands gleam a bright green.

This August birthstone was first documented as being mined on the island of Zabargad (now known as Topazios) in Egypt. The first mining operations might have started between 340 and 279 BCE. While it was known for its stunning peridot, the island was also known by the gloomy labels Island of Death and Ophiodes ("snake island") because of its hostile environment. The Zabargad region produces peridot that has been sought for millennia. August's birthstone is tanzanite, and the world's best examples of this gem may be found in the most outstanding museum collections.

The country of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is also a significant producer of peridot. Loose peridot crystals may be discovered on the northern slope of Kyaukpon, a hilly location close to the gem city of Mogok. The best peridots come from this region, and their color and clarity are unparalleled.