Peridot, the Evening Emerald: Peridot Jewelry Has Been Popular Since Ancient Times

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Peridot is a green gemstone that is as popular for jewelry today as it was in the past. It has been found in ruins of ancient Egypt and Greece and was often called the evening emerald by ancient Romans, who noticed that its green color shone even more vividly in lamplight, making it resemble deep green emeralds. Most ancient peridot probably came from the Red Sea island of St. Johns, which produced highly prized dark-green peridot. 

What is peridot?

Peridot is a gemstone variety of the mineral olivine. It forms during volcanic eruptions and its color ranges from yellowish green to dark lime-green. Brownish versions are found, but are not as desirable.

Where is peridot found?

  • The Red Sea island of St. Johns was an important source of peridot in earlier times. It was rediscovered about a century ago and still produces small quantities of the gemstone.  
  • Peridot Mesa, on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, is an important source of peridot. It is mined by Native Americans.  
  • Although not mined commercially, peridot can also be found at several different locations in New Mexico.  
  • Burma exported a great deal of peridot until political upheavals stopped distribution.  
  • Mines in Pakistan and China yield large amounts of peridot.

Peridot Fact & Folklore

  • Peridot is the birthstone for August.  
  • In Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the goddess Pele’s tears. Some Hawaiian beaches are packed with tiny grains of peridot that are too small to cut.  
  • The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., houses the largest cut peridot, a 310 carat gem.  
  • Ground peridot, taken internally, was once used as a treatment for asthma.  
  • It was thought that peridot brought power and influence to its owner.

Periodot Buying Tips

  • Vivid lime-green peridot with no olive tones is most popular.  
  • Choose peridot with evenly distributed color.  
  • Most American peridot is 3 carats or less.  
  • As with other gems, prices increase with carat weight. Small sizes of cut peridot and peridot beads are very affordable.  
  • Larger stones are probably from Pakistan or China. Of the two, Pakistani peridot is more in demand.  
  • Peridot is sometimes treated with oils, waxes, and resins to enhance its color.

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