Peridot is a gem that gets around. From ancient Egypt to present-day Apache mesas, even in space meteorites--you never know where its green gleam is going to show up.
THE ABCS OF PERIDOT
Peridot, also known as olivine, is August's birthstone. It is found in varying shades of olive green, yellow-green, brownish-green, but the most valued color is a lively lime green. The yellower varieties are often referred to as chrysolite, but are chemically identical. Peridot is usually lighter in hue than emerald, and has a more velvety color rather than a brilliant one. On the mohs hardness scale peridot ranks 6.5 - 7.0.
The largest source of gem-quality peridot is belived to be in the mesas on one of the reservations of the Apache Natives in Arizona, but peridot is also mined in St. John's Island, Zebirget Island, Red Sea (Egypt), Norway, Eifel, Germany, Hawaii, Myanmar (Burma), and Italy. Peridots from Mogok, Burma, are reputed to the largest, although Pakistani gems are said to be the best.
Peridot is occasionally treated with colorless oil, wax, natural and synthetic unhardened resins into voids to improve appearance. Surface fractures are sometimes filled with a colorless hardened substance.
The largest known faceted peridot is on display at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Another, yellowish-green 192.75-carat stone which belonged to the czars is now a part of the Diamond Treasury in Moscow, Russia. A 146-carat step-cut peridot is in the Geological Museum in London. The American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Chicago Museum of Natural History have included peridot in their collections as part of mineral displays. Some European cathedrals have peridots in their interior architechture.
Peridot is an excellent decorative gem, often used as a side stone for more expensive center stones. Their relative affordability makes them popular among those who cannot afford emeralds or sapphires.
Peridot has enjoyed a recent rise in popularity. Fortunately, this increase in demand has been offset by increased production, especially from the fertile mesa of the San Carlos Apache reservation.
Peridot is a clean stone, the darker the green the better the stone. Some peridot can be very light and almost lime green, and thus is not highly regarded. And while peridot most always has an olive tone -- it's the gem variety of the mineral olivine -- look for stones that aren't overwhelmingly olivey. And as with all faceted gemstones, the cut should produce an even fire -- no large dark patches when you look directly down on the table. You should also ask to observe the stone in both incandescent and fluorescent lighting to get an idea of how the color and fire will change when you wear your jewelry under those lighting sources. Don't expect to find much large material from Arizona, most of the San Carlos production is under 3 carats. Chinese material is large but the color is usually inferior to specimens from Pakistan -- which currently produces the finest large quantities of peridot. Burma still produces incredibly stunning, large (30 carats and up) stones, but these are mainly collector's items as production is unreliable and accessible to a handful of connected gem traders.
Peridot is occasionally treated with colorless oil, wax, natural and synthetic unhardened resins into voids to improve appearance. Surface fractures are sometimes filled with a colorless hardened substance. These treatments should be stable if done properly.
All peridot sold in Mondera.com's Gem Store is natural in color unless stated otherwise.
Peridot found in Alexandria, Egypt suggests that the earliest known mines were the island of Zebargad, about 50 miles from the coast of Egypt in the Red Sea. Zebargad is in fact the Arabic name for peridot.
Zebargad, which was known for many years as Saint John's Island, may have been mined as early as 1500 BC. The island was discussed in the natural history of Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) as having been explored in the fourth century BC. It was called "the Serpent Isle' " since its many poisonous snakes interfered with mining activity. Eventually the snakes were controlled and mining began in earnest, and remained generally active well into the 20th century.
Recently Burma has become a peridot center, especially around the famous ruby-producing city of Mogok. However, gemologists generally agree that the best, of not the largest peridot comes from Pakistan. The most abundant source may be the recently discovered deposits on the San Carlos Apache reservation in Arizona. Peridot is now mined in many locations including Norway, Brazil, Australia, Hawaii and the Congo. Peridot is also the only gem that has also been found in meteorites.
Peridot has enjoyed a mystical reputation that ascribes to it powers including that of warding of anxiety, enhancement of speech articulation, and success in relationships and marriage. Ancient Egyptians called peridot "the gem of the sun" because it was supposedly too bright to be visible in the sunny Egyptian desert. Legend also suggested that they could glow at night.
Peridot was believed to have the power to dissolve enchantments. To exert its full potential, the stone was set in gold. If it was to be used to protect the wearer from evil spirits, it had to be pierced, strung on the hair of a donkey, and worn on the left arm. As a medical remedy, it was powdered to cure asthma. Holding a peridot under the tongue was supposed to lessen the thirst of a person suffering from fever. The high priest's breastplate, which is described in the Old Testament Book of Exodus, includes a stone for each of the twelve tribes of Israel, one being peridot.