Nicknamed the “extreme gem”, Peridot is a very underrated gemstone that has fallen in and out of popularity for centuries. Thankfully it has seen a bit of a resurgence recently. Its beautiful olive-green hue is right on trend at the moment. As you will find out, this gemstone is out of this world! But why is it sometimes called the extreme gem you may ask? Well read on and find out …
Peridot, the gem-quality variety of Olivine, is born not in the earth’s crust but is formed within the molten rock of the upper mantle and brought to the surface by extreme forces such as volcanos and earthquakes. The only other gemstones formed this way are Diamonds. It’s no wonder that the Gemmological Institute of America labelled Peridot the extreme gem then! Out of interest, this beautiful stone is one of the few gemstones that only ever forms in one colour.
Peridot is quite abundant around the world, but did you know that some crystals of Peridot have extra-terrestrial origins? 61 crystals have been found in rare meteorites formed 4.5 billion years ago during our solar system’s formation. Olivine (non-gem quality Peridot) has been found in comet dust brought back from the Stardust robotic space probe in 2006 and has been discovered on the moon’s surface. Amazingly it has also been detected on Mars by NASA’s Global Surveyor program. This truly is one cosmic gemstone!
Peridot has been associated with the sun since the earliest civilizations who set it in gold and wore it around the neck to help drive away the forces of darkness. Once known as the “true Topaz”, Peridot was first called “Topazos” after the small island in the Red Sea on which it was discovered. These unique gems (not the mineral we refer to today as Topaz) were mined explicitly for the Egyptian kings who held a monopoly on the island for over 3,500 years until it was abandoned for centuries, only to be rediscovered around 1905. It was renamed Zabargad, an Arabic term for Olivine. The current term “Peridot” is derived from the Arabic word “faridat”, simply meaning “gem.” While it is currently mined abundantly around the world, Peridot is still the national gemstone of Egypt. Peridot is also the official gemstone of August, so now is a good time to top up those supplies!
Peridot has been used for centuries in jewellery-making. This gem-quality version of Olivine is quite tricky to cut as it has high birefringence (significantly bends light) making the angle of the facets crucial. Olivine, the non-gem quality variety is much more abundant and therefore more affordable. This type of Peridot is opaquer and makes for beautiful and interesting round beads, cabochons and pendants.
Peridot is an iron and magnesium-rich silicate that is the gem variety of Olivine. Although historically referred to as a ‘gem of the sun’, geologically speaking, Peridot is neither fluorescent nor phosphorescent. It is often mistaken for other green gemstones such as Emeralds, green Apatite, Demantoid Garnet, Chrome Diopside, Chrome Tourmaline, Moldavite and Green Zircon! It has a hardness of 6.5-7.0 on the MOHs scale.
It is said that Peridot contains protective powers to drive away one’s fears and nightmares. It is believed to carry the gift of "inner radiance", sharpening one’s mind and opening it up to new levels of awareness and growth, helping one to recognize and realize one’s destiny and spiritual purpose. As well as encompassing healing rays for one’s physical and auric fields, Peridot is thought to help one raise one’s own confidence levels.