Peridot is often overshadowed by its green counterpart, the emerald, but there’s more to this vibrant gem than meets the eye. Beloved since Ancient Egypt, the peridot has long been associated with light. It’s fitting that this gem is the official birthstone for August, matching the lush hues of summer and it’s long sunny days. Read on to learn all about this beautiful gem and what makes it unique, and click the photos to shop the peridot estate jewelry you see here.
Peridot is the gem variety of the mineral olivine, ranging brownish green to yellowish green or pure green, with a strong double refraction. Peridot is often found in volcanic rocks called basalts. Formed deep below the earth’s surface, the gem was brought up through volcanic eruptions or shifting tectonic plates. Rarely, peridots have been found in meteorites from outer space. Unlike most gems, peridot is idiochromatic, which means its color is derived from the basic mineral itself, and not from impurities. This means that peridot is only found in shades of green, one of the few gems that can only be found in one color. The amount of iron in the gem determines the intensity of the green.
Ancient Egyptians referred to peridot as the “gem of the sun”. They are believed to have mined the gem in snake infested Topazios (also known as Zabargad or St. John), an island in the Red Sea. Peridot has long been confused with other gems, such as topaz and emeralds. Some historians believe that Cleopatra’s famed emerald collection may actually have been peridots. In fact, the Ancient Romans called peridot the “evening emerald,” because its bright color could still be appreciated at night by firelight.
Today, some of the finest peridots are sourced from Burma and Pakistan. Other important deposits occur in Vietnam, China, and the United States. In its mineral form, olivine, it has been discovered on Mars and the moon.
Peridot is widely available. With eye-clean specimens being common, it is possible to find peridot jewelry at every price range. The most coveted peridot hues are the true greens and grass green shades, with a rich saturation of color. Look for these qualities when you shop for peridot jewelry. Peridot pieces with diamonds are particularly nice, because they help reflect more light into the stone, playing up its bright qualities.