Peridot’s rich history, along with its beautiful yellow-green brilliance, give it a deserved place of pride among gemstones. Its use as a gemstone dates back thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians, who called it “the gem of the sun,” mined it from the island of Zagarbad in the Mediterranean, one of the few known ancient sources of the gem. Many historians now believe that Cleopatra’s famed collection of emeralds was actually peridots. The stone was frequently mistaken for emeralds in medieval times, before more sophisticated gemological analysis was available.
Fortunately for modern aficionados, many sources for peridot exist nowadays, including Arizona, New Mexico, Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, and China. This gem-quality variety of the mineral olivine is found in igneous rocks and brought to the earth’s surface from deep in the mantle by volcanic activity. It ranges from a pale yellow-green to brownish-green, with a deep olive green considered the most desirable hue. Peridot has also been found in meteorites, although usually not in sizes large enough for use in jewelry.
The origin of the name “peridot” is unclear—while some say that it comes from the Arabic “faridat,” meaning “gem,” others speculate that it comes from the Greek “peridona,” meaning “giving plenty.” The stone has a wealth of meaning attributed to it. It has long been associated with healing properties, protection from evil spirits, abundance, and luck. On Hawaii, peridot is associated with Pele, the goddess of volcanoes.
It’s not hard to see why peridot has been a popular gemstone throughout the ages, nor why many cultures have attached meaning to it. The stone looks beautiful under both natural and artificial lighting, which has given it the nickname “the Evening Emerald.” Readily available, it’s an attractive option for those looking for beautiful green gemstone jewelry at an affordable price point. As with other transparent gemstones, its value increases with the size of the individual stone, lack of visible inclusions, and greater intensity of color. While peridot is often cut in standard faceted shapes from round and oval to marquise and triangle, it can also be made into beads and cabochons as well.
Peridot is a 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means it is relatively resistant to scratching. However, the stone can be chipped by a careless blow, and is vulnerable to high heat or rapid temperature changes. You should not clean peridot with steam or with an ultrasonic cleaner.
Whether your birthday is in August or not, peridot makes a fine addition to anyone’s jewelry wardrobe. Auction King carries an assortment of peridot earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets, which we regularly update as new finds become available. Our live auctioneers are happy to answer your questions to help you find the exact piece for your taste, and you’ll find your budget goes further when you’re buying at below-market auction prices! Sign up for a free account today to get started.