Though peridot is widely recognized by its brilliant lime green glow, the origin of this gemstone’s name is unclear. Most scholars agree that the word “peridot” is derived from the Arabic faridat, which means “gem,” but some believe it’s rooted in the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” Perhaps that’s why peridot was, according to lore, associated with prosperity and good fortune. Peridot is the rare gem-quality variety of the common mineral olivine, which forms deep inside the Earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. In Hawaii, peridot once ymbolized the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess of fire who controls the flow of lava. Rarely, peridot is also found inside meteorites. Rarely, peridot is also found inside meteorites. Peridot’s signature green color comes from the composition of the mineral itself—rather than from trace impurities, as with many gemstones. That’s why this is one of few gemstones that only comes in one color, though shades may vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish-green, depending how much iron is present. Most of the world’s peridot supply comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Other sources are China, Myanmar, Pakistan and Africa. Peridot only measures 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, so while the raw crystal is prone to cracking during cutting, the finished gemstones are robust and easy to wear. Also known as “the Evening Emerald” because its sparkling green hue looks brilliant any time of day.
Peridot jewelry dates back as far as the second millennium BC. These ancient Egyptian gemstones came from deposits on a small volcanic island in the Red Sea called Topazios, now known as St. John’s Island or Zabargad. Ancient Egyptians called peridot the “gem of the sun,” believing it protected its wearer from terrors of the night. Egyptian priests believed that it harnessed the power of nature, and used goblets encrusted with it to commune with their nature gods. Some historians believe that Cleopatra’s famed emerald collection may have actually been peridot. Through medieval times, people continued to confuse these two green gemstones. The 200-carat gemstones adorning one of the shrines in Germany’s Cologne Cathedral were long believed to be emeralds as well, but they are also peridots. This gemstone saw a revival in the 1990s when new deposits were discovered in Pakistan, producing some of the finest peridots ever found. Some of these “Kashmir peridots” measured more than 100 carats. The most productive peridot deposit in the world is located on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. An estimated 80 to 95 percent of the world’s peridot supply is found here. Thanks to these rich gemstone deposits, the modern demand for peridots can now be met easily, giving people born in August affordable options for wearing this beautiful green birthstone.
Whether you’re shopping for a birthstone for an August birthday or a 16th wedding anniversary, peridot makes the perfect gift that will leave others green with envy.. Peridot can be assessed with the same criteria as diamonds—using color, clarity, cut, and carat weight to determine value. The finest peridots have a lovely lime green hue without any hints of brown or yellow. Quality gems have no inclusions visible to the naked eye, though dark spots may be evident under a microscope. When you look closely, due to double refraction, you may see two of each facet on a peridot. Thanks to rich deposits of peridot that were discovered in Pakistan in the 1990s, the gemstone is relatively inexpensive in smaller sizes but prices increase for larger stones. Commercially-mined peridots typically measure six to 13 millimeters, so faceted stones are generally about one carat in size. Flawless peridots over five carats are very rare, though gemstones as large as 22 carats have been cut from basalt rock in Arizona—where most of the world’s peridot is found. The world’s largest peridot is a 310-carat gemstone in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Thankfully, there’s now enough raw material on the market so that the perfect peridot can be found to fit any taste or budget. If you are looking for peridot birthstone jewelry, click here to find a jeweler near you.