Origins and History
Peridot is considered to be one of the world’s oldest gems. This sumptuous green gem dates back as far as ancient Egyptian times. It is believed that peridot was first found on the island of Topazos (now known as Zabargad or St John’s Island) in the Egyptian Red Sea.
The Egyptians were very fond of peridot and some historians even believe that Cleopatra’s famous emeralds were actually peridot gems. To this day, peridot is still the national gemstone of Egypt. In biblical times, it was often referred to as chrysolite. The first record of peridot in England dates back to 1245.
Although some scholars believe the word “peridot” is derived from the Greek word for “gem” (faridat), others maintain that it originates from the French word “peritot” meaning “gold”, possibly because it can sometimes have a golden tinge.
Olivine is the actual name of the mineral, and peridot is the name gemmologists attach to olivine of sufficiently high quality that it can be used in jewellery. Although olivine is fairly abundant, the high quality peridot used in jewels is much less common.
Olivine is formed deep within the Earth’s mantle. Like diamonds it can lie as deep as 50 miles underground. It generally makes its way to the surface through earthquakes and volcanic activity. This is why it is often found in lava in volcanic regions and may also be found in meteorites.
Peridot is one the few gemstones which only occurs in a single colour, although it does appear in various shades of green from bottle green to olive and apple green. The precise shade of green is caused by the amount of iron contained in its crystalline structure. Pure green, with no yellow or brown hues is exceedingly rare.
It is because of these variations in colour that it may have come to have been mistaken for emerald in the past. The Romans called them “evening emeralds” because they reflect the light and appear more green under artificial light. This stone does not need to be treated in any way to enhance its colour.
Owing to its rarity, peridot was once considered more valuable than diamond. However, as years have gone by, many other major sources of this gemstone have been found as far afield as Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Brazil, the US, Norway, Hawaii and several other countries. Fresh deposits of a particularly fine quality and large size were discovered around two decades ago in the Kashmiri region of Pakistan. This has led to a major revival in the stone’s popularity.
Peridot became the official birthstone for August in 1912 when it was named as such the American National Association of Jewelers. It is for this reason that it is so well-known today. In the zodiac birthstone chart, it is the official birthstone for Librans, and is also the stone that is used to celebrate the 16th wedding anniversary.
There are a number of mystical healing properties that have been long-associated with peridot. It is alleged that peridot will bring good luck, love, friendship, harmony, peace, and success to those who wear it. It is also believed to dispel anxiety. Allegedly, a protective shield is provided around the wearer which will promote a good night’s sleep and banish any bad dreams or nightmares!
Regardless of whether or not you believe in the healing powers of crystals, there is no doubt that peridot is a particularly alluring gemstone. For that reason alone it will always make you feel good when you are wearing it in the form of attractive jewellery. Peridot jewellery does not have to be expensive.
It is useful to remember that gemstones are graded primarily by “the four C’s” : Clarity, Colour, Cut, and Carat (weight).
Clarity grades run from completely flawless down to inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye. As described above, colour can vary quite widely with some gemstones, according to their mineral content. Cut or shape will also vary according to the type and grade of stone. The cheaper grades of stone may be used as beads and shaped into chips, nuggets and drops. The carat is highly relevant when discussing highly prized gems such as diamonds which can be cut into very tiny stones.
An example of how peridot chips can be used is shown in this peridot and agate cluster bracelet. This shows how real gemstones can be made both fashionable and affordable and can look equally as attractive as the more expensive stones. The clearer faceted cut stones work well in smaller pieces of jewellery such as our silver earrings and pendants.
Peridot is particularly striking when combined with sterling silver in jewellery. This stone is a particular favourite of ours and Caravela Jewellery has a constantly expanding peridot collection of pendants and earrings which we hope will suit a variety of budgets and tastes. Why not choose something from our Peridot Collection now?
Caravela Jewellery is a professional member of the International Gem Society.