The name ‘peridot’ was derived from the Arabic word for gem – ‘faridat’, and today it is the official birthstone for August and the 15th anniversary gemstone.
It is sometimes referred to as ‘the poor man’s emerald’ or as ‘chrysolite’, a word derived from the Greek word ‘goldstone’.
Peridot has always been associated with light. In fact, the Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun.” Some believed that it protected its owner from “terrors of the night,” especially when it was set in gold.
Historians believe that the famous emeralds of Cleopatra were actually peridot gems.
The ancient Romans called it ‘evening emerald’ since its color did not darken at night, but could still be appreciated by candle light and the light of a campfire.
Peridot was also brought back to Europe by the Crusaders and was often used to decorate medieval churches. In ancient beliefs, peridot was a gift of Mother Nature to celebrate the annual creation of a new world.
This gemstone comes in several color variations ranging from yellowish green to brown, but most consumers are attracted to the bright lime greens and olive greens. Peridot, in smaller sizes, often is used in beaded necklaces and bracelets.
Today this gem is still prized for its restful yellowish green hues and long history. Large strongly-colored, examples can be spectacular, and attractive smaller gems are available for jewelry at all price points.
Gem miners find peridot as irregular nodules (rounded rocks with peridot crystals inside) in some lava flows in the United States, China, and Vietnam and, very rarely, as large crystals lining veins or pockets in certain types of solidified molten rock.
Geologists believe both types of deposits relate to the spreading of the sea floor that occurs when the earth’s crust splits, and rocks from its mantle are pushed up to the surface.
Sometimes—as in Myanmar— these rocks can be altered, deformed, and incorporated into mountain ranges by later earth movements.
Peridot is also known as the “extreme gem” as sometimes it can have an extraterrestrial source, being contained in meteorites that have fallen to earth. it has also been discovered on Mars and the moon in olivine form.
Chemically, peridot is an iron magnesium silicate and its intensity of color depends on the amount of iron it contains. There may also be traces of nickel and chromium present.
The largest cut peridot was found on the island of Zabargad, weighing 319 carats it now belongs to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. In Russia there are some cut peridots from a meteorite that came down in Eastern Siberia in 1749.
Peridot is relatively hard and durable, however, it is considerably softer than many other gems, so care should be taken to prevent scratches.
When storing peridot gemstones, store them separately and away from other gems and jewelry. If possible, wrap them using a soft cloth and place them inside a fabric-lined protected jewelry box.
Peridot can be easily cleaned using warm, soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove any soapy residue. Do not use ultrasonic cleaners or heat steamers to clean your peridot.
Always remove any gems and jewelry before playing sports, exercising or performing harsh household chores.
We hope this article has given you a bit of a background on peridot, but should you have any additional questions about this or any other jewellery related topics, you can always: “Ask the Jeweller”
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