When I see a juicy, fresh, green Peridot, I feel my eyes widen and a warm glow radiates over my whole body. Whether it is faceted, cabochon or sitting patiently in a slice of Pallasite Meteorite, I simply feel instant happiness and gratitude. The ancient Egyptians also felt this way too, referring to this green mineral as the ‘gem of the sun’; they too felt the warm glow of the sun’s energy through the vivid, green glimmer.
The August birthstone, Peridot is the gem variety of the mineral olivine. Generally, a well-known gemstone, Peridot is a silicate mineral with the formula (Mg, Fe)2 SiO4, although has low silica content. Peridot sits between its two ‘end members’, the magnesium mineral forsterite (Mg2, SiO4) and the iron mineral Fayalite (Fe2, SiO4). The colour of Peridot is determined by the varying amounts of magnesium and iron in its composition and colours can vary from a golden yellow, vivid lime green through to a dark olive/brown. The highest grade of peridot is said to be a pure grass green, but most commercially available Peridot has a yellowish hue.
Unlike many other gemstones, there are no known treatments that enhance the colour or clarity of Peridot. What you see is what you get, however glass and cubic zirconia imitations do exist, and they are becoming more and more present in the retail market. Peridot can be found in excellent eye-clean quality although their inclusions are unique and can, in my opinion, add to their allure. ‘Lily pads’ are the most commonly seen and are noted as a diagnostic inclusion of Peridot. They are described as a round stress-fissure surrounding a small black chromite crystal (sometimes liquid or gas filled). You may also discover healed fractures, occasionally with an iridescent sheen, and small rounded negative crystals that can produce a glittery effect.
Known as being the stone of strength and regeneration these traits certainly come into play when we learn that Peridot is formed in the Earth’s mantle (thousands of kilometres deep) and carried to the surface in lava during volcanic activity. In fact, 50% of the Earth’s mantle is comprised of olivine and other high-pressured structural variants. Due to Peridot’s high iron and magnesium content, it is thought that Pallasite Meteorites also formed within the mantle of asteroids and exposure to high temperatures would have allowed the mineral constituents within to recrystallise forming the Peridot crystals. Peridot is also very dense, crystallising at extremely high temperatures compared to other minerals, another factor to consider whilst imagining crystals surviving a meteoric impact!The dense nature of peridot results in a strong birefringence, which refers to a stone’s double refraction of light. As a single ray of white light enters a doubly refracting gemstone, it splits into two rays. Both rays travel at different velocities and in the case of Peridot there is a great difference between these two rays. The results can allow you to see double when peering into a cut gemstone; back facets and inclusions may appear to have cloned themselves thanks to this optical phenomenon. Another great party trick of Peridot is dispersion, the more appealing term being ‘brilliance’, a quality the Ancient Egyptians no doubt admired as well.
Deposits of Peridot have been found all over the world with most stones hailing from Pakistan, Myanmar, Arizona and Australia.
The Ancient Egyptians were thought to have mined Peridot from an island in the Red Sea called Topazios, now known as St John’s Island or Zabargad. Historians also believe that Cleopatra’s famous Emerald collection might actually have been Peridot, with Peridot mining on Topazios beginning around 300BC.
Recently, Made in Earth has been sourcing Peridot from Afghanistan with stones presenting a softer shade of green. Bunny Bedi, owner and designer at Made in Earth, talks about his experiences with Peridot.
“The price of Peridot is one that keeps on climbing! We try to keep our prices at a certain mid-range level, but Peridot has pushed the limits the last few years. Stones over 8mm are particularly hard to find at fair prices, as crystals with good clarity are rare in this size. We’ve always had deep green stones from Pakistan, and they’ve always been my favourite, but recently I’ve discovered a few small parcels of paler stones from Afghanistan. Their delicate colour has had interest from our clients.”
Worshipped like the sun throughout the ages and likely to do so forever more, peridot will maintain its cult-like following for many years to come. Our Peridot jewellery collection showcases some truly amazing and unique variations of this juicy green gem in rings, pendants, bracelets and earrings. Visit one of our galleries to see these variations in person or shop our Peridot collection online today!