Peridot Stone | August Birthstone
1. About the Gemstone Peridot
2. Peridot | Historical Facts
3. Characteristics and Uses
4. Article Photos
5. Our Collection of Rocks and Minerals
About the Gemstone Peridot
Peridot which is the gemstone variety of the mineral olivine is not only one of the most common minerals on Earth but has also been found in meteorites, on the moon and even 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. With that said, the finest grade stones contain more magnesium than iron.
The gemstone 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 (suffix pronounced dough).
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 peridot 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 like many of the rock and mineral photographs in this section of our website, is courtesy of Stan Celestian.
Peridot | Historical Facts
One of the earliest references to the stone peridot 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. It's also referenced in the bible's book of Exodus which states peridot was the second stone in the first row of the high priest breastplate, a religious garment worn by Aaron the first Jewish high priest and brother of Moses.
In ancient texts peridot is believed to have been known as topaz which historically has caused some confusion. Originally mined on the island of Topazios known today as St John's Island or Zabargad in Arabic, most early stones were mined here and small amounts are still mined today. Peridot from this location had excellent color as well as sharp, lustrous and well defined crystal faces. In later years large gem grade stones were also found in Myanmar formerly Burma and these mines became well known for their twenty and forty carat stones which exhibited incredible colour and clarity.
Ancient Egyptian rulers called peridot "the gem of the sun" because of its intense brightness. They believed it could not be mined during daylight hours because its brightness rendered the stone invisible. In the dark it was believed to give off its own light so that its location could be marked and miners could then return by day to collect it.
Peridot | Smithsonian Institute. Photo; Stone Mania
Characteristics and Uses
A particularly unusual characteristic about the mineral olivine is that it's highly susceptible to chemical weathering hence cannot survive for long at the surface in wet climates. This is likely to be the reason why there are so few localities where it can be found and stones tend to be restricted to areas with arid or semi-arid climates. A significant quantity of the finest grade peridot from the Suppatt region of Pakistan appeared on the market in 1992. The deposit which is located 15,000 feet up in the Kashmir region of the Himalayan Mountains is inhospitable and rugged terrain prone to landslides and heavy winter snow. For this reason mining can only take place from late June to early September.
Some of the finest grade peridot from Pakistan ever to have been discovered was mined around the year 2000 and the size of these stones was described as being "quite magnificent". Once cut, some weighed in at over 2000 carats.
Peridot Mesa on the San Carlos Apache Indian reservation in the United States is currently the most productive peridot 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.
The photo at the top of our article is courtesy of Stan Celestian. The next photo taken by Stone Mania features peridot on display in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C. Both photos are clickable and redirect to the original full size image.
Our Collection of Rocks and Minerals