Peridot - The Soothing Green
Peridot, the gem form of the mineral olivine, traces its jewelry roots back more than 3,500 years. It was first mined by the ancient Egyptian on the island of Zebargad in the Red Sea. Zebargad was known as the “serpent isle”, because it was infested with snakes that interfered with mining activity until one Pharaoh finally had them all driven into the sea.
Found in various shades of green, Peridot is most prized in lime hues. The Roman called Peridot “evening Emerald”, because its green color was said to glow at night. The gem was also used to decorate medieval churches and was most likely carried back to Europe by the Crusaders. Large Peridots of more than 200 carats in size adorn the shrine of the three magi at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.
Small crystal have been found in volcanic rock; in fact, Hawaiian legend called Peridot the divine tears wept by Pele, goddess of the volcano. Samples of the gem also ahve been discovered in meteors that have fallen to earth.
The ancients believed that Peridot had the power to ward off evil spirits, nightmares and enchantments. It was considered most potent when the stone was set in gold. Peridot was also said to strengthen any medicine drunk from goblets carved from the stone. .
Today, most Peridots are mined by Native Americans on Carlos Reservation in Arizona. It is also mined in Brazil, China, Egypt, Germany, Hawaii, Italy, Norway, and Sri Lanka. In 1994, a new deposit was discovered in Pakistan, yielding some of the finest Peridot ever seen. Numerous fine, large crystals were discovered including one stone of more than 300 carats.
Peridot is readily available in a range of sizes, shapes and color hues. The finest stones are eye clean and have s deep. lime green color. Because, inclusions are common, clarity is an extremely important factor when buying Peridot.
Its relative affordability and lively green has made it a popular substitute for those who can not affords Emeralds. The birth stone for month of August, Peridot is also recommended gem for married couples celebrating their 16th wedding anniversary.
When shopping for Peridot, keep in mind that it is relatively soft, it measures 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, and should be spared rugged, regular wear if mounted in a ring. This is why the gem is more often use as a side stone for more expensive gems than as the center stone. It is also highly sensitive to rapid temperature changes and can lose its polish of brought into contact with hydrochloric or sulfuric acid.
Peridot is occasionally treated with colorless oil or wax to improve its appearance. Surface fractures are sometimes filled with a colorless resin that hardens. If done, properly, these treatments should remain stable.
Fine large specimens of the stone are on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C.; the Diamond Treasury in Moscow; and the Geological Museum in London.