6.5 – 7 Mohs Scale
For more than two millennia, peridot has been associated with light. It’s believed that the Egyptians were the first people to mine this golden-green gem on the volcanic Red Sea island of Topazios.
According to legend, the island was infested with dangerous snakes, but the Egyptians drove them into the sea in order to mine the hidden treasure.
The ancient Egyptians called peridot “the sun gem”, believing it had fallen down from the skies.
To the astonishment of modern scientists, the Old Egyptians’ beliefs about the origins of peridot weren’t altogether wrong.
In 2006, NASA’s explorer spacecraft, Stardust, returned to earth with mineral samples gathered from near the sun. Among other particles they found gem-quality peridot, thought to be as old as our solar system.
On Earth, peridot is also frequently found in meteor craters. Peridot has therefore earned itself a reputation as the extraterrestrial gemstone.
This has made it all the more popular in August birthstone jewellery, and it is often worn by those born under the star sign of Leo.
Peridot is a type of a silicate mineral called olivine. It’s one of the few gems that occurs in only one colour, green.
It’s pigmentation is due to the presence of iron trace elements. Depending on the amount of iron present, peridots may appear lighter or darker, ranging from pale golden-green to intense olive green.
Peridot has what is called “high double refraction” – if you peer closely at the gem you’ll see a clear double image of its pavilion facets.
It rates 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. The name peridot originates from the Arabic word “faridat,” meaning “gem.”.
Peridot is found in the earth’s upper mantle, in lava deposits, or at meteorite crash sites. It occurs all over the world, including USA, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Australia, China, Pakistan, Myanmar and Norway.
It’s also still produced on the very same island where the ancient Egyptians mined it; the island of Topazios is now known as St. John’s Island, or Zabargad in Arabic.
The important factor for jewellery professionals who buy and sell peridot is to purchase it only from legitimate, conflict-free sources.
Peridot is the traditional stone for 16th wedding anniversaries. It’s the August birthstone, aligned with the zodiac sign of Leo.
It stands for clear thinking and a good heart and symbolises light.
In ancient times it was believed that peridot’s bright sparkle could ward off evil during the night.
In Cologne, Germany, stands the impressive Cathedral of Saint Peter and Mary. The most famous piece of art inside it is The Shrine of the Three Kings, adorned with gold and more than 1,000 gemstones.
For several centuries it was thought that the large green jewels decorating the shrine were emeralds. They’re in fact impressive 200-carat peridots.
Peridot jewellery is sparkling, with a beautiful golden-green colour. It’s bright and luxurious, yet not overwhelming.
This means it can be used to dress up casual looks and add sophisticated glamour to evenings. It looks particularly attractive and eye-catching with outfits that match and enhance it’s olive green hues.
Peridot also combines well with white, pink, pale yellow and black clothing. When combined with other gems, peridot looks beautiful with transparent or light pastel coloured stones like diamonds, pearls and different varieties of quartz
How to assess a Peridot’s quality and value?
Peridot is found all over the world as exceptionally clear crystals. This makes it a beautiful and relatively inexpensive gem, perfect for use in jewellery.
The carat price of the purest olive green peridot can be high, but commercial quality peridot still looks incredibly sparkly, eye clean and very attractive.
Our gemmologist evaluates peridot in the same way as other gemstones, by its colour, clarity, cut and carat weight.
Most commercially mined peridot is yellow-green, although the gem can appear in a range of shades, from grass green to dark olive green. Peridot should not appear brown, as that lowers its value considerably.
Thanks to its clarity and vivid sparkle, peridot lends itself well to both small and large jewellery items. Carvings and works of art often exhibit jewels of more than 100 carats. Smaller peridot gems used in jewellery are very affordable, but prices begin to rise when the gem weighs more than 3 carats.
Most gem quality peridot is translucent and looks clean to the unaided eye. When looked at with a jeweller’s loupe, peridot crystals may appear to have tiny black natural inclusions inside. These are perfectly acceptable in jewellery, as long as they can only be seen with magnification.
Peridot can be cut into many different shapes, including oval, cushion and emerald cuts. Creative designer cuts, carvings, as well as smooth dome-shaped cabochons and beads are also popular.
Peridot doesn’t usually need any enhancement to look beautiful. But like with all gemstones, treated peridot and even imitations are sometimes sold.
For example, lighter coloured peridot gems may be given a special coating to make them look greener or to stabilise natural fissures. Our gemmologist recommends buying peridot that hasn’t been treated in any way.
Always buy peridot jewellery from a trusted retailer that declares any treatments given to gems. That way you can rest assured you’re buying peridot at its real value.
Peridot is a gem of above-medium hardness, but you should still protect it from scratches and bumps when wearing or storing it.
Peridot can also be susceptible to pressure and extreme heat or cold. It’s therefore best to avoid ultrasonic jewellery cleaners and sudden changes of temperature.
To clean your peridot jewellery, wash it gently in warm, soapy water using a soft toothbrush and pat dry with a clean cloth.
A Peridot Crystal from Zabargad Island
Finding Peridot in Australia