Peridot is referred to by three names: ‘peridot’, ‘chrysolite’ (from the Greek ‘gold stone’), and ‘olivine’, (since it comes from the mineral olivine). Jewelers most often call it ‘peridot’, which is derived from the Greek word ‘peridona’, meaning ‘riches’. It is found throughout the world and is a popular gemstone today.
Hardness: Peridot has a hardness rating of 6.5-7 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Color: Peridot is one of the few gemstones that are “idiochromatic” which mean its color comes from the basic chemical composition of the mineral itself, not from minor impurities, and therefore will only be found in shades of green. The shade of green depends on the concentration of iron contained in the crystal structure. While the most valuable peridots are dark olive-green, other peridots can vary from yellow-green, olive-green, to brownish, sometimes a lime-green, to an emerald-ish shade.
Birthstone: Peridot olivine is the birthstone for August. It is also the stone for the Zodiac sign of Libra.
Scarcity: Olivine tends to be a very abundant mineral, due to a recent large find in Pakistan, but gem quality peridot is rare.
Value: The value of peridot ranges greatly depending on the quality and size of the piece being sold. Peridot cat’s eyes and star peridot are particularly rare and precious. The largest (and one of the most valuable) cut peridot olivine is a 310 carat piece which resides in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
Most Common Cuts: Peridot is cut according to its crystal structure because the rough crystals are easy to break. Only experienced gem cutters can handle them without damage. Peridots are mostly faceted in round, antique, as an octahedron or oval. They are also often cut into an emerald cut and princess cut. Smaller crystals are cut into standardized series stones. Cabochons are made if the material contains more inclusions.
Chemical Formula: The chemical composition of peridot is (Mg, Fe)2SiO4, with Mg in greater quantities than Fe.
Synthetic Varieties: The only synthetic peridot manufactured has been for experimental purposes in laboratories and has not been for sale in the marketplace. Occasionally peridots are enhanced with colorless oils or resins to reduce the inclusions and improve the clarity of the stone.
History: Peridot is found in the rocks created by volcanoes and from fallen meteors. The peridot is a very old gemstone and evidence shows that was used in Egyptian jewelry as early as the second millennium B.C. A small volcanic island in the Red Sea, St. Johns, was the source of peridot for these early peridot enthusiasts. The site was rediscovered in the early 1900’s. In the late 18th century, peridot was taken from Egyptian ornaments and reused in jewelry. The popularity of the gemstone waxed and waned throughout time, but it made a big comeback in the 1990′ due to the find of a large, sensationally rich deposit of the finest peridots in Pakistan.
The most beautiful stones today come from the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mines also exist in China, the United States, Myanmar, Africa and Australia.
Rumored Healing Properties: Peridot is said to bring good luck, peace, and success to all that wear it. It is said to attract love, and calm anger and dispel negative emotions. Associated with the sun, peridot is said to drive away all darkness and evil spirits.
Over the years, peridot has been used as a healing stone for ailments related to the lungs, heart, kidneys, gall bladder, spleen, stomach, and the intestines. Peridot is said to help with physical detoxification and heal such illnesses as ulcers, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Some have used Peridot to help heal insect bites and ground peridot, taken internally, was also once used to treat asthma.
Peridot is also said to be helpful in treating skin diseases and difficulties associated with the adrenal glands and endocrine systems.