Peridot (pronounced PEAR-A-DOE) is the birthstone of people who celebrate their birthday in August. It’s often associated with harmony, good health, restful sleep, and peacefulness. Peridot is also the gem given to celebrate a 15th wedding anniversary.
What’s in a name?
Peridot is widely recognised by its brilliant green glow but the origin of the gemstone’s name is unclear. While most scholars agree that “peridot” is derived from the Arabic faridat, which means “gem”, some believe it’s rooted in the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” Perhaps that’s why peridot was traditionally associated with prosperity and good fortune.
Pyramids and princesses
In ancient times it was believed that peridot was a gift from Mother Nature to celebrate the annual creation of a new world. Peridot was popular among the Pharaohs in Egypt and, even today, it is the national gem of Egypt. Peridots are also closely connected to the Hawaiian culture—they are thought to be the tears of the volcano goddess Pele. When presented as a gift, peridot was said to bring the wearer magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares. It was also said to instill power and influence.
Peridot is popular with some British royals. The Duchess of Cambridge, or Princess Kate, wears a pair of peridot, blue topaz, and diamond earrings. King Edward VII declared peridot his favorite gemstone; and vintage peridot jewellery is frequently found from the Edwardian era (as well as Victorian era).
Where in the world?
Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), an ancient naturalist, first recorded the existence of peridot on a small island off the coast of Egypt. This island was closely guarded by the ancient Egyptians because it was thought to be the site of priceless treasures. It is widely believed that some of Cleopatra’s famous emeralds were actually peridots.
Today, most Peridot comes from Arizona, but it can also be found in China, Myanmar and Pakistan.
In the 1700s, a meteorite that landed in Siberia contained many peridot crystals that were large enough to be used for jewelry.
A glowing green
Peridot forms deep inside the Earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. Its 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. The intensity of color depends on the amount of iron; the more iron it contains, the deeper green it will be (and, generally, the more valuable).
Peridot gemstones smaller than three carats are common, while gemstones over five carats are rare and higher in value. Peridot between 10 to 15 carats are even more rare but provide a big and bold look for an affordable price.
The largest peridot ever found is 319 carats, and is held by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
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