Peridot Stone | August Birthstone

 

 

rich green coloured olivine mineral

 

 

About the Gemstone Peridot


Peridot the gemstone variety of the mineral olivine is not only one of the most common minerals on Earth but has also been found in meteoriteson the moon and on Mars.  Olivine is one of the few minerals that occurs in just one colour.  The depth of colour and shade can vary from yellowish green to brownish green depending on the amount of iron that's present.

Peridot which is the birthstone for the month of August is often pronounced per-i-dot but we believe the correct pronunciation is per-i-doh.

Despite the abundance of the mineral olivine, gem-grade peridot is much rarer.  The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. houses some exceptional faceted gemstones and the photograph below was taken by Stone Mania during one of our many visits.  The photo at the top of the page is the mineral olivine and is courtesy of Stan Celestian

One of the earliest references to this distinctive green gemstone was by Pliny the Elder (Roman author and philosopher) in his encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia in which he tells of a stone that was presented to Berenice, Theban queen of Lower Egypt around 300 B.C.  The gemstone peridot is also referenced in the book of Exodus which states it was the second stone in the first row of the high priest breastplate a religious garment worn during biblical times by the Jewish high priest.  In ancient texts peridot is believed to have been known as topaz.  Originally mined on the island of Topazios which is known today as St John's Island or Zabargad in Arabic, most of the early stones came from this location and small amounts are still produced today.  In later years large fine grade gemstones were also found in Myanmar formerly Burma and mines in this area became well known for their 20 to 40 carat gems which exhibited amazing colour and clarity.    

Ancient Egyptian rulers called peridot 'the gem of the sun' because of its intense brightness and believed it could not be mined during daylight hours because its brightness rendered it invisible. In the dark it was believed to give off its own light so its location could be marked and miners could then return by day to collect it.


 

 

collection of peridot gemstones in a museum display cabinet

 

Peridot in the Smithsonian Institute. Photo: Stone Mania ©

 

 

 

What's particularly unusual about the mineral olivine is that it's highly susceptible to chemical weathering hence does not survive for long at the surface in wet climates. This is most likely the reason why there are so few localities where it can be found as it's restricted to areas that have arid or semi-arid climates.  Some of the finest grade material was discovered in Pakistan around the year 2000 and the size of the stones was described as being quite magnificent.  Once cut some of them weighed in at over 2000 carats.  The region where peridot is mined is inhospitable, dangerous and 15,000 feet up in the Kashmir region of the Himalayas so weather means the site is only accessible for two or three months of the year.

Peridot Mesa located on the San Carlos Apache Indian reservation in the United States is currently the most productive mining area in the world and it's estimated that 80% to 95% of the world's supply comes from here.  Smaller amounts can also be found in Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Norway, and other parts of the USA.

When used in crystal healing peridot is said to be beneficial for strengthening and regenerating the body, it emits a warm energy and provides a shield of protection around the wearer.  It can help heal a bruised ego by lessening the feelings of anger or jealousy and inspires happiness within one's self.  It increases patience, confidence and assertiveness as well as helping to slow down the ageing process.

Mainly used as a lapidary material and sought after by collectors, peridot grades 6½ to 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

 

 

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