August Birthstone Is the Only Gem to Be Found in Meteorites and on Mars
When a 925-pound meteorite crash landed in Fukang, China, in 2000, there were few signs of the beauty that lay within. But when a thin slice was removed from the rock creating a window to the inside, a breathtaking site was revealed. This was no ordinary meteorite. It was an extremely rare pallasite – a type of stony-iron meteorite – that contained large, translucent, gem-quality olivine (or peridot) in a silvery honeycomb of nickel-iron.
Now dubbed The Fukang Meteorite, the space visitor is said to be 4.5 billion years old (about the same age as our Solar System) and one of the truly spectacular meteorite specimens ever discovered. Less than 1% of all meteorites are pallasites because very few specimens can survive their descent through the Earth’s atmosphere. The ones that do survive usually explode into many smaller pieces. Scientists believe pallasites are “relics of forming planets.”
Peridot is the only gemstone found in meteors and the first gem to be discovered on another planet. The Mars landing of 2003 revealed that the Red Planet is covered in about 19,000 square miles of green peridot crystals.
The Fukang Meteorite was expected to fetch $2 million at a Bonham’s auction in 2008, but remains unsold.
The August birthstone seems to have an energy source all its own. It shines with a bright green glow even at night. Peridot was called the “gem of the sun” by the ancient Egyptians and the “evening emerald” by Romans. A thin cross section of the pallasite presents a stained glass effect when the sun shines through.