When we think of green gemstones the first one that comes to mind might be an emerald. There’s another lovely green gemstone that needs our attention: Peridot. Pronounced PEAR-A-DOE or PEAR-A-DOT, Peridot is an exclusively green gemstone, with a fascinating history and it’s widely used in different types of jewelry. Let’s learn more.
What Color is Peridot?
Gemologically speaking, peridot is the gem variety of the forsterite-fayalite mineral series with a hardness between 6.5 and 7 on Mohs scale, which is about the same as quartz. Unlike quartz, it’s rich in magnesium and iron. The intensity and tint of its unique green color depends on how much iron is contained in the crystal structure, so the shade of individual peridots can vary from yellowish green to greenish yellow to brownish green. Peridot’s color is an intrinsic part of its mineral structure and therefore is always present.
Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in only one color, generally a light green though the more iron it contains, the deeper green it will be in color and it’ll also be more valuable. Peridots are found either deep within the high temperatures of the Earth’s mantle and brought to the surface by volcanic activity or by riding to Earth on flaming meteorites called pallasite meteorites. The latter is fairly rare and those peridot deposits are usually too small for jewelry.
Peridot is an idiochromatic gem, meaning its color comes from the basic chemical composition of the mineral itself and not from minor traces of impurities. Peridot is both a day stone and a night stone, keeping its shining color even under artificial lighting. For this reason, it is sometimes called an “evening Emerald”. While Peridot has some similar qualities to Emerald, its color and glow are softer in intensity.
Peridot History and Meaning
Pliny the Elder, an ancient naturalist first recorded the existence of peridot on a small island off the coast of Egypt. It’s widely believed that Cleopatra’s famous emeralds were actually Peridots as the stone was popular among the Pharaohs in Egypt. Today Peridot is the national gem of Egypt. Its vivid saturation is part of the mythology of Peridot and ancient Egyptians called it the gem of the sun, and believed it glowed in the dark.
Because of that glow, Peridot is thought to protect its owner from “terrors of the night.” Since its discovery, Peridot is believed to have strong magical powers. Ancient Romans strung Peridot on donkey hair and tied them around their left arms to ward off evil spirits, and because of its lightness, Peridot is said to counter the effects of negative emotions and bring inner peace. It really is a cheerful, light and summery green gem.
Peridots are also connected to Hawaiian culture where they are thought to be the tears of the volcano goddess Pele. Peridot has been used extensively in jewelry and carved talismans since ancient times. Today Peridot is a symbolic gift for couples celebrating sixteen years of marriage and is the birthstone for August. Give us a call at 303-385-8449 or click here to schedule an appointment where we’ll help you create the perfect piece for yourself or a loved one.