Bright and luminous, green Peridot gems have been highly sought after since ancient times for their golden glare, delicate appearance and vitreous lustre. Their pigmentation, comparable to that of Emeralds or Malachite, is unique due to its clarity, richness and intensity. Very desirable in its olive green colour (thus also known as ‘Olivine’), Peridot is also admired in its lighter shades, reminiscent of germinating plants in the spring time exuding vitality and life-energy. This makes it an ideal gem for those seeking to restore and balance their energy and find new stamina.
What is Peridot?
Peridot is an idiochromatic gem, meaning that its colour is determined by its chemical composition (not by minor traces or impurities of other substances). It’s an iron magnesium silicate with a high concentration of iron which produces the gorgeous green colouring. Iron can account for up to 10% of its overall mass, with occasional traces of chromium and nickel which intensify and brighten the gem’s colour.
Unlike the majority of minerals, which form on the surface of the Earth’s crust, this stunning gem forms in the mantle layer, thus deeper into the Earth. Peridot has its genesis in magma and, thanks to volcanic activity, gems find their way onto the Earth’s surface. Evocatively born from fire, stunning specimens of Peridot are usually found nestled within magmatic rocks, while more rarely they have also been found in meteorites.
The origins of its name
This stunning bright green gem is also known by the name of ‘Chrysolite’, meaning ‘golden stone’ (from the Ancient Greek ‘chrysos’ and ‘lithos’), as in sunlight it often displays a gorgeous golden shimmer.
Characteristics of Peridot
This fascinating gem is one of the very few in the world characterized by a single colour. It does come in various shades of green which span from a deep bottle green to a highly desirable lighter grass green (the latter being the most sought after tint).
This is a rather fragile stone: it can suffer scratches or chip even if lightly scraped or if exposed to dramatic changes in temperature. For this reason, extreme caution and care must be used when cutting or polishing this stone.
This is a precious stone with a vitreous lustre which frequently presents inclusions which are visible to the naked eye. More rarely, smaller gems will be eye-clean (meaning it is clear of any visible inclusions when observed with a naked eye at a distance of 15cm, that is 5.9in). Unusual specimens present needle-shaped inclusions which produce cat's eye chatoyancy (these gems are known as Cat Eye Peridot) or asterism (Star Peridot).
Further distinguishing traits of this fascinating gem are its intense luminosity and clarity. Peridot displays a strong birefringence (also known as double refraction), particularly visible in larger specimens. This means that Peridot tends to split one ray of light into two rays, producing a sparkle which is visible under any type of light, whether in daylight or at night. Some say it’s as if this gem retains the splendour and warmth of sunrays which are then released through its sparkle. This gem is so resplendent, even at night time, that Ancient Romans named it ‘Evening Emerald’.
Types of Peridot
Peridot comes in all shades of green, which span from lighter nearly-yellow hues, to deeper Emerald-green ones or even darker olive green.
Peridot from Kashmir (in Pakistan) is the most sought after variety. First discovered in 1992 in the Himalayas, its distinguishing traits are the exquisite colour, the exceptional clarity and the unusually high carat weight.
Several characteristics make this a truly unique gem:
Where can Peridot be found?
This mesmerizing gem is found in various parts of the globe, but the most significant deposit is that on St. John Island, a volcanic island in the Red Sea, about 80km (50mi) from the Egyptian coast. This island is also known as Zabargad, which is also the name used for Peridot in Arabic.
The mine on St. John’s Island was already active in Ancient Egyptian times. Gems were extracted from this mine 3500 years ago to make both jewels and talismans: a splendid Peridot gem was utilised to create a pendant for Pharaoh Tutankhamun. The largest ever Peridot stone, weighing an astounding 310 carats, was found on this island and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute in the United States (Washington DC).
Other significant deposits can be found in the United States (in Arizona and Hawaii), in Myanmar, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Brazil, Norway and Australia. Recently, China has become a leading producer of Peridot, though the most exquisite specimens are known to come from the Kashmiri region in Pakistan.
Fragments of Peridot have also been found in meteorites (known as pallasites) which splintered off asteroids from the main belt between Mars and Jupiter. A limited amount of Peridot has also been found on the planet Mars.
Properties of Peridot
Since medieval times, this gorgeous gem has been utilised to rebalance and restore both physical energy and feelings: in her writings, Saint Hildegard, an experienced crystal therapy practitioner, recorded that the use of Peridot had proven to harmonise energies and help achieve inner peace. In her experience, this precious stone could also be used to heal the heart, enhance intellectual abilities, increase stamina and to reduce fever.
In crystal therapy nowadays, Peridot is considered beneficial for the development of one’s personality and for one’s self-realisation. Furthermore, it is used to strengthen both intuition and the ability to take initiative, and also to distance oneself from a burdensome past. Peridot can be of exceptional help at times when planning or organising work or study related activities. Its positive energy helps reduce stress, hypochondria, melancholy, negative thoughts and existential crises, while bestowing joy and happiness.
Peridot unblocks physical, psychic and emotional congestion, by for example improving digestion or helping release negative sentiments such as anger and jealousy.
Its healing properties can help with skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, herpes, rashes, acne and so on. Simply place a Peridot gem in the cream, ointment or water to be used on the skin area that requires treatment. The stone has to be immersed for at least 48 hours for it to release its beneficial energies.
The energy within Peridot can strengthen our immune system and is also a powerful cleanser for our body: it is in fact a tremendous support for endocrine glands, the gall-bladder and the small intestine.
Smiliarly to Topaz, Peridot is a gem which encapsulates all of the sun’s splendour, energy and vitality. It is usually associated to the Fourth Chakra (Anahata), also known as the Heart Chakra, found at the centre of the chest.
This gem can have a positive influence on Anahata, helping it open up to love. Peridot is in fact highly recommended for introverts or solitary people as it inspires empathy and joie de vivre. It encourages us to be open and available to love, and also makes us feel more secure by helping us address negative emotions such as envy, jealousy and rage.
Once utilised, the gem can be immersed in cold and salted water for cleansing. Furthermore, exposure to moonlight will revitalise the stone, while exposure to direct sunlight is strongly discouraged.
Peridot in history and across the world
A much loved and sought after gem since ancient times, Peridot was utilised by ancient Egyptians as a decorative stone for embellishing elegant jewellery. It was also frequently used by ancient Greeks and Romans to make amulets to ward off evil spirits. It was thought that the gem’s powers could be amplified by setting it in gold. Similarly, it was also believed that medicinal beverages could be more effective if drunk from a chalice carved out of Peridot.
In the Bible, Peridot is mentioned as the stone used to build the foundation walls of the New Jerusalem. The gem was brought back as booty throughout the Crusades and in the Middle Ages it was employed to decorate churches. Furthermore, gorgeous Peridot stones were acquired for the Russian crown jewels, the largest of which was 193 carat weight.
Two of the world’s brightest and most impressive Peridot gems, weighing 310 and 287 carats, are currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC (USA).
The Topkapi Museum in Istanbul (Turkey) is home to the largest and most valuable Peridot collection in the world. One of the masterpieces is the Bayram throne, adorned with over 954 Peridot gems of various carat weight.