August birthstone ~ Peridot
The idea of “birthstones” or a gemstone for specific months made its way into the Judeo-Christian tradition through the description of the breastplate of Aaron, the High Priest, in Exodus 28 and 39. Over the centuries theologians have debated the importance and symbolism of these gems, and even the identity about what specifically some of the gems may have been. (Read more about this in our post on the origins of symbolic gifts for birthdays and anniversaries.)
If your birthday is in August, you have lots of company – it’s the month in which more people celebrate birthdays than any other.
The birthstone for August is the peridot, a gem variety of the mineral chrysolite or olivene (chrysolites are the name by which peridots are mentioned in the Bible). Peridots are a beautiful, almost glowing green color, ranging from leafy green to olive, which in the past have often been mistaken for emeralds; it’s now believed that Cleopatra’s famous emeralds may actually have been fine dark green peridots.
Peridots were often used for decoration in medieval churches and reliquaries; they may have been brought to Europe by the Crusaders. Peridots, along with enamel and other gemstones, can be seen adorning the 12th-century Shrine of the Three Magi in Cologne Cathedral.
Historic lore associates the peridot with healing, probably due to its verdant color; it is also associated with marital happiness and is the theme for the 16th anniversaries.
You can view our selection of peridot gift suggestions on CelebrateYourFaith.com.