Yellow gold and peridot ring sitting atop a vanilla frosted cupcake

August’s birthstone is the Peridot. Did you know peridot (from the Arabic word “faridat” which means “gem”) is a member of the olivine mineral group—so named because of its unusual olive green color? Found in iron and magnesium rich volcanic rocks called basalts, peridots formed deep inside the earth and were forced to the surface by volcanic eruptions. Interestingly, peridot is not as light dependent as blue and red gemstones, meaning that it stays the same color in all lighting conditions—a rare occurrence in colored gems. Ancient Romans referred to peridot as the “evening emerald“ because its bright green color was still visible at night. The Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun” and it has been theorized that Cleopatra’s famous emerald collection was actually mostly comprised of peridots. In fact, throughout much of recorded history peridots have often been mistaken for emeralds.

WHERE ARE PERIDOTS FOUND?

Peridots are found in Myanmar (formerly Burma), the Himalayas in Pakistan, Vietnam, China and the United States (Arizona). The most renowned specimens–exhibiting a rich, grass green color unadulterated by either yellow or brown–typically come from Myanmar and Pakistan.

PERIDOT MEANING & ANCIENT LORE

  • Peridot has been found in pallasite meteorites which are most likely between 4-5 billion years old (dating back to the origins of our solar system). In 2005, peridot was found in comet dust brought back from the Stardust robotic space probe.
  • Peridot exhibits extremely high double refraction, i.e., when you look closely through the gemstone, you will see two of each pavilion facet.
  • Peridot is the traditional gift for a 15th wedding anniversary.
  • The fabulous 200-ct. gemstones adorning the shrine of the Three Holy Kings in Germany’s Cologne Cathedral are peridots although they had been commonly assumed to be emeralds.
  • Peridot is thought to increase prosperity, growth and openness as well as strengthen life.

BUYER’S GUIDE: PERIDOT

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: COLOR AND CLARITY

COLOR

Peridot is an “idiochromatic” gemstone, meaning that its color comes from the basic chemical composition of the mineral itself (iron and magnesium) not from minor impurities thus peridot will only be found in shades of green. A richly saturated grass green is the most prized hue of peridot; however, this is usually only found in gems of 10-carats or larger. Smaller peridots are more of a yellowish-green or greenish-yellow color. Brown undertones are less desirable as they lower the peridot’s value.

CLARITY

Inclusion-free peridots are practically nonexistent. As such, their value depends on how visible the inclusions are. The best peridots exhibit what is commonly referred to as “eye clean clarity“ where tiny black spots—minute crystals—are visible only under magnification. Other inclusions common in peridots are reflective, disk-shaped inclusions called “lily pads” (so named because they resemble lily pads found in nature).

CUT

Peridot may be cut in a wide variety of styles, including ovals, emerald cuts, and cushions.

CARAT WEIGHT

Peridot’s colors tend to be at their finest (intense grass green) in gemstones weighing 10 carats and above. Below 10 carats, it is rare to find anything other than yellowish-green or greenish yellow specimens.

PERIDOT CARE

Since peridot is a relatively soft gemstone, be sure to handle it with care. Peridot should be cleaned once every 6 months.

If you’d like to do it at home, simply mix lukewarm water with a little mild soap, and use a soft bristle brush to clean the stone. After cleaning, dry with a soft cloth and then store it in a cotton box. Do not place chemicals, cosmetics, or sharp objects near your gemstone. Also, make sure that your peridot isn’t exposed to any sudden large temperature swings. Excessive heat can fade its color.

Source: GIA (Gemological Institute of America)

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