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COLORED STONE, BIRTHSTONES, EDUCATION

Birthstones

Birth stones have been used for centuries to celebrate ones birth. Since different traditions have associated different gemstones with each month, We have included several so you can choose the birthstone which works best for you. Know whichever birth stones you choose, your gift will be very much enjoyed. If you want a birthstone with the most significance choose one from the older traditions; otherwise, simply choose the gemstone you like most.

Birthstones have been used since at least the first century as a way to give good luck on ones birthday. Gemstones are associated with each month and each precious stone has designated qualities associated with it. Birthstones are also a fun way to share something about yourself. Our birthstone chart lets you choose from many stones to find the right stone for yourself or a loved one.

 
Birthstone chart
Birth Month Modern Birthstones Traditional Birthstones Mystical Birthstones Ayurvedic Birthstones 15th-20th Century Birthstones
January Garnet Garnet Emerald Garnet Garnet
February Amethyst Amethyst Bloodstone Amethyst Amethyst, Hyacinth, Pearl
March Aquamarine Bloodstone Jade Bloodstone Bloodstone, Jasper
April Diamond Diamond Opal Diamond Diamond, Sapphire
May Emerald Emerald Sapphire Agate Agate, Emerald
June Pearl, Moonstone Alexandrite Moonstone Pearl Agate, Cat's Eye, Turquoise
July Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby Onyx, Turquoise
August Peridot Sardonyx Diamond Sapphire Carnelian, Moonstone, Sardonyx, Topaz
September Sapphire Sapphire Agate Moonstone Chrsolite
October Opal, Tourmaline Tourmaline Jasper Opal Beryl, Opal
November Yellow Topaz, Citrine Citrine Pearl Topaz Pearl, topaz
December Blue Topaz, Turquoise, Tanzanite Zircon, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli Onyx Ruby Bloodstone, Ruby
 
Aquamarine

Picture the azure seas of the Caribbean with their cool greenish-blue color. The water is so clear you can see through it to the lovely light reflections between the surface and the sand below. Gazing into a fine aquamarine, you can almost transport yourself to a Caribbean island, its appearance is so like these crystal blue seas. In fact, aquamarine is Latin for sea water.

Aquamarine is emerald's most famous sister. It is simply a different color variety of the mineral beryl. Greenish-blue to bluish-green beryl is called aquamarine. The advances of modern technology have made it possible, and very common, for aquamarine to be heat-treated to drive the green out of the stone and leave a more pleasing blue. This is a permanent treatment and has become accepted in the jewelry industry.

Aquamarine has been credited with providing courage, curing laziness and quickening the intellect. In the Middle Ages it was believed to give the wearer both insight and foresight and freedom from insomnia. Among various peoples, it had the reputation of providing happiness and everlasting youth. Water in which an aquamarine had been soaked was believed to cure eye troubles, stoppage of breath and hiccups.

Madagascar is the historical source of aquamarine, but is no longer important. A medium dark blue is the color typical of stones that came from that area. Brazil is probably the most prolific supplier of aquamarine today. The natural color of Brazilian gems leans toward bluish-green.

Other sources of aquamarine are the African countries of Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria, the island of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Russia.

Many huge aquamarine crystals have been found. The largest crystal known was found in Brazil in 1920. It was 19 inches long, 16 inches wide and weighed 243 pounds. It was cut into a number of important gemstones. A 13-pound uncut piece of the green outer portion of the crystal resides in the American Museum of Natural History. The British Museum of Natural History owns an 879.5 carat flawless, step-cut aquamarine with a lovely sea-green color. It is easier to find large gem quality pieces of aquamarine than it is to find such pieces of emerald.

Aquamarine is at home in the most casual setting as well as the most elegant. Small aqua may be set alone in dainty settings, with or without diamond accent. Larger aquamarines nestle comfortably in the company of diamonds of many sizes. Aquamarine is one of the few gemstones that looks beautiful with both white and yellow gold or platinum: Yellow gold adds a warm touch to the piece of jewelry; white gold or platinum accentuates the coolness of the gem's color.

Aquamarines are set in women and children's jewelry of all kinds. They are cut in a variety of shapes and sizes for use in rings, earrings, pendants, pins and bracelets. They were a favorite gem for use in the parures (matched sets) of the 1820's and are still striking for similar modern use.

Comparing emerald and aquamarine, the latter is the tougher sister. Aqua is usually free from the inclusions that make emerald more fragile. It is often step-cut (emerald-cut) to show its color to best advantage.

Aquamarine needs to be cleaned often to keep its brilliant sparkle. A thorough, soft brush scrubbing with a commercial jewelry cleaner or liquid detergent and water is sufficient if done after every three or four wearing.

 

Amethyst


Bacchus, the god of wine and conviviality, was angry because of some slight against him and swore revenge. He announced that the first mortal to come across his path would be eaten by tigers. Just at that moment along came the lovely maiden Amethyst, on her way to worship at the shrine of the goddess Diana. Diana saw what was happening and transformed Amethyst into stone to rescue her from a violent death. When Bacchus viewed the miracle, he repented and poured wine over the stone, staining it purple. This is the legendary creation of the gemstone amethyst.

The word "amethustos" means "not drunk." The ancient Greeks believed that whoever wore this stone would be protected against the intoxicating effect of wine. Whether or not the Greeks held the key to sobriety is open to question. Roman women, however, claimed the gem could keep their husbands faithful.

The Bible tells us of a jewelled breastplate worn by Aaron, the high priest of the Hebrews. It contained twelve precious stones. The amethyst was the third stone in the third row. In the New Testament, these stones became the foundation of the New Jerusalem described in Revelation. Each gemstone was identified with a prophet. The amethyst stood for Math's, who had the gift of tongues and was filled with the desire to please God.

Amethyst s a variety of'(quartz which occurs in a transparent light to dark purple. It has long been treasured by kings and queens as well as high figures in religious sects because of its rich, royal color can be traced back to the Minoan period in Greece (c. 2500 B.C.) when it was found as polished cabochons (dome-shaped stones) set in gold. It is represented in many artistic eras since then. During the 15th century the French fleur-de-lis brooch could only be worn by the Royal family on ceremonial occasions. The one surviving example of this art form is part of the Royal regalia of France. The fleur-de-lis design on it is set with sapphires and amethysts.

Amethysts were popular in the parures (matching sets) of the 1820's. They were a favorite medium for Art Nouveau craftsmen and are still favorites of the most creative modern jewelry designers. A major reason for their popularity in jewelry design has been their wide availability and modest price. Large, fine pieces were always easily attainable and lent themselves to freedom of design. It is only in the last few years that fine quality amethyst has become somewhat scarce.

Today the two main sources of amethyst are Brazil and Zambia. It is also found in Uruguay, Russia, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and our own state of Arizona. With the increasing scarcity of fine amethyst, a manmade duplicate has come onto the market. Amethyst is always desirable, but when fashion includes the rich palette of lilacs, lavenders and royal purples, its popularity soars.

Amethyst is fashioned in a number of different ways. It is faceted or polished into a cabochon for rings, pendants, earrings and cuff links. It may be carved into violet petals for a pendant or earrings or into a cluster of grapes for a brooch. Beads of amethyst are strung in various lengths, sometimes polished, sometimes not. They may be combined with gold beads, pearls, rock crystal or other colored stone beads. Amethysts look especially rich when set in gold and accented with diamonds.

Emerald
 

Emeralds come in many shades of green and bluish green. There is a wide spectrum of clarity, dependent on the inclusions and fractures in the crystal. Clear stones with dark yet vibrant color command the highest prices. Almost all emeralds contain numerous flaws, cracks, and inclusions, which can negatively affect the clarity. These are given the name "jardin", from the French word for garden. The value of an emerald depends on cut, color, clarity, and carat. Currently the best emeralds come from the Muzo mine in Colombia.
 
 Tanzanite



 Tanzanites were first found in the late 1960's, at what remains the sole source: a hilly area called Merelani in, Tanzania. So unlike many other gemstones, that I have featured, it does not carry a mystical ancient history. The name was changed from "blue zoisite" to tanzanite by Tiffany & Company.

There are many colors that can be seen in a tanzanite. This is because it is a trichroic gem. Very few stones are trichroic and this is what makes tanzanites very easy to identify. Trichroic refers to three layers of color. The more common layers are blues and purples but you may also see flashes of red, green, yellow, orange, or brown. The color that gemologist predominantly speak of is the "deep royal blue".

Keep in mind that most tanzanites have a distinct shift in color with different types of lighting. There are a few tricks that I use when I purchase tanzanites and they are the following:

1. Always clean the stone first. Dirt and fingerprints hide color and brilliance.

2. Examine the stone face up against a variety of backgrounds. Look straight down at it against a white background and check if the center of the stone is pale and washed out. (This is undesirable). Then examine against a black background. Do you still see the same colors or do they disappear?

3. Examine the stone with different lighting; natural versus synthetic lighting. Look at it under dark lighting(shaded areas).

4. Check the stone from the side to look for what is called color zoning. If the color is uneven this decreases the value of the stone. Have the store explain about hue and color purity when you compare price. This is where most of the stones purchased in the islands come up short.

5. Always look at a stone with a 10X power loupe. This will help you see the color depth as well as any defects that may be in the stone.

I will never forget an email that I received one day about a tanzanite bracelet that I had on auction. I had a price of $800 on the bracelet. The stones were smaller but the quality was very beautiful. I paid $750 for the bracelet. Now keep in mind that I buy almost four million dollars a year in jewelry, so my costs are much lower than most jewelers. I received this email from a gentleman stating that he had been following my auction and that it was obvious that my bracelet had not sold because it was priced too high. That same bracelet today, one year later, would cost me over a thousand dollars.

Since subtle differences in quality can make large differences in beauty (and price), it is important to select your jewelry from a professional who can guide you honestly and ethically in your purchase. I have had so many people tell me that tanzanites are much cheaper in the islands. This is a false statement. Fine tanzanites are very expensive. And with the recent blocks on production the prices are sky-rocketing. There are cheap tanzanites on the market but they are just that, cheap!

Hues that range from blue to violet blue command the highest prices. The majority of people prefer colors that look closer to a blue sapphire. Tanzanites that have a strong purple color and look like amethyst stones are much cheaper to buy. I have really stressed color because this is the most important pricing factor for tanzanites.

Always compare price per carat when pricing colored stones. Otherwise it will be difficult to make an accurate comparison. Very high quality stones demand high prices because they are very rare. It is always best to let the jeweler know what your pocket book can handle or you may be very surprised. Remember that there is no standard system for grading colored stones. This is why it is wise to look at many stones and compare prices before purchasing what you think is a good deal. It is best to establish a relationship with your jeweler because they will help you find values that you would rarely find on your own.

Cleaning Tips:

  • Soak in lukewarm soapy water using a mild liquid detergent. Rinse with water that is the same temperature and dry with a paper towel or soft cloth. You can also use window cleaner. Wipe immediately after spraying.
  • Avoid exposing your stone to sudden changes of temperature. This includes hot tubs, very cold water, and reaching into ovens and then going straight to a cold sink.
  • Do not wear when doing any type of physical labor. e.g. gardening.
  • Always store in soft cloth away from other articles of jewelry.
  • Occasionally tap the ring next to your ear to listen for any rattling noises indicating a loose stone.

 

Ruby

 

The price of wisdom is above rubies, says Job in the Bible, implying that rubies were highly prized in his time. Indeed, the respect and appreciation for rubies has always transcended all geographical boundaries and social class.

The gold coronation ring of the English kings contains a large, tablet-cut ruby on which the figure of St. George's cross is engraved. Around the ruby are set 26 diamonds. Rubies are generously represented in crowns and scepters in the royal jewels of many nations.

Ruby has acquired special attributes from its admirers over the centuries. It has been regarded as a symbol of freedom, charity, dignity and divine power. The Burmese believed that gemstones ripened like fruit. The redder the color, the riper the ruby. A flawed ruby was considered over mature.

Large, gem quality rubies have always been very rare. The huge gems described in medieval romances and oriental literature were most likely exaggerated by the imaginations of ruby admirers and creative authors or were actually garnets or spinels.

Ruby and sapphire are the two varieties of the mineral corundum. Their exceptional hardness is surpassed only by diamonds. Red corundum is called ruby, and all other colors are called sapphire. The cut-off between ruby and pink sapphire on one end and plum sapphire on the other has long been a subject of controversy. Of course, gem dealers want the gem they're selling to be classified as a ruby because the name alone increases its value.

A few rubies have distinguished themselves because of their size or extraordinary beauty and are being guarded for posterity The Louvre in Paris houses the Anne of Brittany Ruby, a 105-carat polished but irregular gem. The 167-carat Edwardes Ruby was donated to the British Museum of Natural History in 1887 by John Ruskin. This 167-carat gem was named in honor of Major-General Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes (1819-68) who saved British rule in India during the years of the Indian Mutiny. Two star rubies are displayed in American museums. The Smithsonian displays the 137-carat Rosser Reeves Ruby, and The American Museum of Natural History has the 100-carat Edith Haggin de Long Ruby.

The different geographical sources of ruby are known for characteristic colors and qualities, although they all produce a variety of gem material. Burma is famous for producing the greatest amount of top quality ruby-a fine, clear, deep red. Thailand is known for dark red to brownish-red stones. Typical Ceylon (Sri Lanka) rubies are medium light in tone. And Africa is known for small, sheet-like, purplish-red material.

Burma is the most important source of ruby today. Other producers are the island of Sri Lanka-(formerly Ceylon), the countries of Thailand, Kampuchea (Cambodia), India and Australia, various localities in Africa and our own state of North Carolina.

A synthetic ruby is nearly identical to the natural gem in physical appearance, chemical composition and optical properties and can easily be confused with genuine ruby by unknowledgeable buyers. Only a trained geologist can tell the difference by locating telltale inclusions in the stone.

Some rubies display a luminous star when viewed in the right light. This is caused by the orientation of intersecting needles within the stone. The light reflecting off them forms a star. Stars may be seen on certain translucent stones that have been cut in a dome shape.

Ruby's dramatic color and regal heritage make it the choice of the most discriminating jewelry lovers. Fine, large rubies may be worth more than diamonds of comparable size. They make elegant rings and pendants. Smaller stones are also set in these pieces as well as brooches, bracelets, and earrings. Small rubies are popular for use in anniversary rings to wear alone or in the company, of diamonds. Rubies are stunning against a backdrop of white, black, royal blue or emerald green.

Since subtle differences in quality can make large differences in beauty (and price), it is important to select your jewelry from a professional who can guide you honestly and ethically in your purchase.

 Garnet

 

Garnet is a rainbow of gemstones. With the exception of blue it is found in every color of the spectrum. It may have the red of fine ruby or the green of rich emerald.

Garnet has been dubbed the gem of faith, constancy and truth. Asiatic tribes carved garnets into bullets in the belief that their fiery color would inflict more deadly wounds. They were ground into powder for the treatment of fever or jaundice. If the cure didn't work, the apothecary was accused of using an imitation.

 

The garnet is a family of gems rather than a single gemstone. Most garnets are readily available in fine qualities, so a wide selection is available at affordable prices.

Best known among the garnets are the deep red almandine and pyrope garnets. The almandine is what most people think of when garnet is mentioned. It is a dark, slightly brownish or violetish-red. The pyrope tends to have less brown in it. Fine quality pyrope may be confused with a dark ruby, but medium quality looks much like almandine.

A garnet that has become increasingly favored in recent years is the rhodolite. Its lively violetish-red calls to mind a light-filled glass of rose wine. It may resemble a violetish ruby or a plum sapphire.

The rhodolite was widely used in Greece during the period between the reign of Alexander the Great and the conquest of Rome. Alexander had just popularized the cutting of cameos from precious stones, and this gem lent itself well to the task. Engravers gave these cameos a flat base and a convex top in which they etched their designs. This was the forerunner of the popular cabochon (dome-shaped) cut still popular today.

Spessartite takes one into the oranges from tangerine to cinnamon. The bright golden or burnished hessonite is a popular variety.

In the late '60s a new garnet was discovered which made green an important garnet color. This is the tsavorite, named after the Tsavo region of Africa. Its color may resemble a sunlit meadow or the finest emerald. The increasing scarcity of fine emerald has contributed to its importance.

The very rare demantoid variety of andradite is an emerald green with diamond-like fire. Uvarovite garnet may also be emerald green, but it is found only in tiny sizes.

Continuing its masquerade of the world's most precious gemstones is a translucent green grossularite which resembles fine jade.

Within the diversified garnet family is something for everyone. Deep red, cabochon-cut garnets are often set into men's rings, tie tacks and cuff links. Surrounded by a bold expanse of gold, they are important enough for every well-dressed businessman and elegant enough to make the transition into evening wear. The color dramatically accents grey, black, navy, camel and rust. It complements tweeds as easily as it does gabardines.

Garnets are a basic for the businesswoman's wardrobe. Garnets of all colors are fashioned into rings, pendants, pins and earrings. Red and violet garnets are often strung into beads to be worn alone or in combination with pearls or gold beads.

Garnets are also smart for any social occasion. Designs range from delicate accents to jeweled masterpieces. A large garnet set with diamonds is perfectly comfortable at the most glamorous affairs.

Garnet is a favorite in children's jewelry. It is set into dainty swirls, hearts and roses for rings, pendants and earrings. It is often chosen as the starter piece in a young girl's collection

 

 Sapphire

 

The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire whose reflection gave the sky its color. Damigeron, a historian of old, wrote that sapphire was worn by kings to protect them from harm. It was also believed that sapphire would protect the wearer from envy and attract divine favor. The gem was regarded as a symbol of truth, sincerity and constancy.

Legend has it that if a poisonous snake were put into a vessel along with a sapphire, the rays from the gem would kill it. Our ancestors interpreted this to mean that sapphire was an antidote against poison.

At one time any blue gem material was called sapphire. References to a blue-flecked stone led mineral experts to realize that some of what had been called "sappheiros" was actually lapis lazuli. "Sappheiros" is Greek for "blue."

The finest sapphire color is rich, velvety cornflower blue. This is called "kashmir" out of deference to the traditional source of the finest quality. Today, however, the Kashmir area of India is not generally mined because of its physical inaccessibility. Most current production comes from Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Montana, Australia and Africa.

Sapphire occurs in colors ranging from very light to dark blue to violetish-blue, bluish-green, yellow, slightly reddish-orange, brown, nearly opaque black, colorless, pink, violet and pinkish-orange. Corundum (sapphire's mineral name) occurs in red, but this is what we know as ruby. A particularly lovely pinkish-orange is referred to as "padparadscha" which is taken from the Sinhalese for "lotus-colored." Although sapphire is found in many colors, these are not all commercially available at any given time. Some are so rare they are collectors items.

Fine, needle-like inclusions are what give sapphires their velvety quality. When these inclusions are numerous enough to make the stone translucent or opaque and are oriented properly, they allow light to be reflected in such a way that a star floats across the top of the stone with movement. When a cutter recognizes this potential in a piece of rough sapphire, he will cut it in a dome shape. Stars are not visible in faceted stones.

The Sinhalese believed the star sapphire would protect them against witchcraft. The three intersecting rays were thought to represent faith, hope and destiny. Museums the world over exhibit star sapphires that are noteworthy for size or quality. The 543-carat "Star of India" resides in the Morgan-Tiffany Collection in the American Museum of Natural History in New York city.

Sapphire in its many colors is fashioned into timeless pieces that compliment many styles in your wardrobe. It is either faceted or cabochon (dome-shape) for use in rings, pendants, earrings and pins. It may be linked between expanses of chain for wrist or neck wear. Sapphires are set into the simplest of designs as well as the most elegant of pieces. Prince Charles of England made the headlines with the sapphire and diamond ring he used to seal his betrothal to Lady Diana Spencer.

Since subtle differences in quality can make large differences in beauty (and price), it is important to select your jewelry from a professional who can guide you honestly and ethically in your purchase.

Opal

 

Twelfth Night Shakespeare referred to opal as "the queen of gems' " The Roman historian Pliny described it as having "the fire of the carbuncle, the brilliant purple of the amethyst and the sea green color of the emerald, all shining together in incredible union"

The Romans considered opal a symbol of hope, an appropriate attribute for a gem with a rainbow locked within it. The Arabs believed opals fell from heaven in flashes of lightning, thus acquiring their fiery colors.

These romantic notions are inspired by one of the most uniquely beautiful gemstones nature has ever produced-the dramatic, mysterious opal. The phenomenon displayed by opal is called play of color. It is caused by the diffraction of light set up by the layers of silica spheres in its composition. The effect is similar to the rainbow colors displayed on a soap bubble, only much more dramatic.

In the 19th century opal acquired a stigma through its role in the plot of a novel by Sir Walter Scott, Anne of Geierstein. The heroine owned an opal that burned fiery red when she was angry and turned ashen grey upon her death. Queen Victoria finally dispelled the curse by giving opal jewelry wedding presents to her relatives.

Opal has long been regarded as an October birth stone, sharing the spotlight with tourmaline. The famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt was born in October and never considered herself well-dressed unless she was wearing opals.

The most treasured variety of opal is black opal with strong play of color, that is, brilliant flashes of different colors. Black opal is so called because of its dark background color.

The variety known as white opal has a light background, and the colors displayed lean toward the pastel hues.

Crystal opal has a colorless background and exhibits play of color, but, unlike white or black opal, it lets light pass through it.

Fire opal is also fairly transparent, but its background color may be yellow, orange, red or brown. Sometimes it doesn't even have the typical play of color. It's often called Mexican opal because Mexico is a major source of this type. Fire opal with a red body color is also known as cherry opal.

Opal that is colorless, transparent to semitransparent and has little or no play of color is called jelly or water opal.

The number of colors exhibited and the evenness of the pattern judge opal quality.

Australia is the world's most important source of opal. The opal miner is a strange breed of individual. He chooses to lead a Spartan life in a particularly barren and dry corner of the world while he searches for his rainbows. To escape the extreme temperatures, he must burrow a home underground.

Opals are usually found in sandstone or claystone. Deposits are spread over a wide area, and there is little clue to their location. Mining is done on a small scale with hand-operated machinery and small tools. A pocket knife might be the final instrument to loosen an opal from its host rock.

Over the past century scientists have become highly skilled at creating laboratory facsimiles of fine gemstones. Far from being mere look-alikes, these synthetic gems are made of exactly the same material that nature uses and mimic the natural structure perfectly.

Synthetic opal first came on the market in 1974 and has been improving ever since. A skilled gemologist like a member of the American Gem Society can distinguish it from natural opal by viewing it under magnification, but to the untrained eye it looks natural.

Because opal displays a whole rainbow of colors, it can be worn with any color outfit. It is usually cut in a dome shape and set in rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and pins. It may be joined by accents of ruby, sapphire or emerald to enhance particular color flashes in the gemstone. A fine opal piece is often guarded in a web of small diamonds as are other exceptional colored gems. Some opals are fashioned into beads for a major contribution to a woman's total look.

 

  

Peridot

 

 

Peridot (pronounced pear-uh-doe) is a French word derived from the Arabic faridat, which means gem. The stone ranges in color from light yellow-green to the intense bright green of new grass to olive. Because of the way peridot splits and bends the rays of light passing through it, it has a velvety, "sleepy" appearance-a shining rich glow.

According to astrologers, the wearer of peridot will enjoy happiness in marriage, the power of eloquence in speech and enduring freedom from insecurity-both emotional and physical.

Ancient Egyptians called peridot "the gem of the sun," although they believed its seekers might not find it in sunlight. Because of their brightness in the desert sun, the stones were supposedly invisible by daylight. In darkness, however, they were alleged to give off a light of their own. by night, miners were said to mark their locations accordingly and return to recover their treasures by day.

Peridot was believed to have the power to dissolve enchantments. To exert its full potential, the stone was to be set in gold. Then it would drive away night's terrors. If it was to be used to protect the wearer from evil spirits, it had to be pierced, strung on the hair of a donkey, and worn on the left arm.

As a medical remedy, it was powdered to cure asthma. Holding a peridot under the tongue was supposed to lessen the thirst of a person suffering from fever.

The high priest's breastplate, which is described in the Biblical book of Exodus, includes a stone for each of the twelve tribes of Israel, one being peridot. The Bible also tells of a jewel worn by King Esekiel from Exodus, an impressive peridot.

Archaeologists have found valuable peridots in Alexandria, Egypt, which must have come from the original source, the island of Zebargad (zebargad being the Arabic word for peridot). It is located about 50 miles from the coast of Egypt in the Red Sea. Faceted stones have also been found in the ruins of ancient Greece and attributed to the same source.

Zebargad, which was known for many years as Saint John's Island, may have been mined as early as 1500 BC The island was discussed in the natural history of Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) as having been explored in the fourth century BC it was called "the Serpent Isle' " since its many poisonous snakes interfered with mining activity. Eventually, an Egyptian ruler had the snakes killed and kept the miners isolated at work on the island. Because the rich green stones were so coveted, guards of the deposits were told to kill any unauthorized travelers approaching the island.

The treasure was kept secret from the western world for centuries-from Biblical times until the seventeenth century. The mines were very active from 1906 until world War I and afterward until World War II.

Burma then became the prime source of peridot, stones from its Mogok region being generally a bit lighter green than those of Zebargad. Another major worldwide source of peridot is the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. Only the Apache Indians may mine there. Lesser sources of peridot are Norway, Brazil, Australia, Hawaii and the Congo. Peridots have been found in meteorites.

The largest known faceted peridot (310 carats) is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Now a part of the Diamond Treasury in Moscow, Russia, is a yellowish-green 192.75-carat stone which belonged to the czars. A step-cut peridot of 146 carats is in the Geological Museum, London, England. The collections of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Chicago Museum of Natural History have included beautiful examples of peridot. Many peridots were taken to Europe by crusaders returning from the East and kept in cathedrals. Especially fine specimens are in the Cathedral in Cologne.

 

 

 

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