The August Birthstone

Augst brings us a birthstone which may not be as well known as many. 

Peridot was mined by the Ancient Egyptians on the Red Sea island of Topazios, now known as Zabargad or St John’s Island, and this is reported to have been the first discovered source of peridot which Cleopatra quickly laid claim to. 



From early on in its discovery, it was confused for topaz as funnily enough, Topazios was the main source of topaz. According to legend, the island was infested by snakes which made mining near impossible until a pharaoh drove the snakes into the sea. Rocks on the island are mainly igneous rocks which are formed through the cooling and solidification of lava which explains why most peridot is formed deep inside the earth and brought to the surface by volcanoes however, peridot has also been discovered within meteorites that have crashed to earth. In 2005, peridot was found in comet dust brought back to earth from the Stardust robotic space probe. Extra-terrestrial peridots are incredibly rare and are often found housed in museums. 

The Ancient Egyptians referred to this stone as the ‘gem of the sun’ and believed that it protected the wearer from terrors of the night, and when set in gold and worn around the neck, its powers became more intense. Gold has always been a very expensive commodity so others who weren’t as fortunate to be able to afford gold would string their gems on donkey hair and tie them around their wrists to ward off evil spirits. 

With Cleopatra laying claim to the first discovered peridot source in the world, this explains why historians now believe that her famous ‘Emerald Collection’ may actually have been peridot. Another famous example of this mistaken stone is in the gems adorning the shrine of the Three Holy Kings in Germany’s Cologne Cathedral where, for centuries, these stones that were thought to be emerald turned out to be peridot. 

Lot  448 in the Jewellery Auction is a pair of peridot and diamond earrings. Each bright green gem is accentuated by the fiery diamonds which surround it and these come with an estimate of £1200 - £1800. Lot 470 is a peridot, diamond and seed pearl pendant which comes with an estimate of £200 - £400. 

Browse the full online catalogue to see more peridots and other gemstones:  


Amy Cameron


McTear’s sells more jewellery than any other traditional auction house in the dedicated jewellery auctions that take place twice monthly, run concurrently live online on a platform that attracts six million visitors annually from over 120 countries worldwide.

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