Peridot. the birthstone of August is a really extraordinary gem, that represents the color of August: green. Anyway my country -The Netherlands- is green in August. When I see a Peridot gemstone I think of summer and get happy. Peridot is given as a present with the 16th anniversary and is such a special stone: special for its origin, special in color, special in history. Let me tell you more about the peridot…
Where does the name ‘peridot’ come from?
The peridot is known for more than 3000 years and we don’t know for certain where the name comes from! In Great Brittain there is a theory that the name comes from the Anglo-Norman language ‘pedoretes’ and that name should come from the Latin word ‘paederot’: a type of opal. In the Arabic world, they say that ‘peridot’ comes from the Arabic word ‘faridat’, which means ‘gem’.
In France, they think that the word ‘peridot’ comes from the French word ‘peritot’, which has its origin in the Arabic word ‘faridat’, which means ‘precious stone’. The French word ‘peritot’ means ‘gold’ because the color of the peridot in the sun can look like gold.
Others refer to the peridot as ‘poor man’s emerald’ or as ‘chrysolite’, which comes from the Greek word for ‘goldstone’. And one thinks that in history the peridot was confused with emerald.
It’s difficult to say who is right and who gives the right meaning of the word ‘peridot’. It gets even more complicated because the name ‘peridot’ is only used for the last 200 years. Before this period the peridot was also called ‘olivine’, due to the color green of the gemstone. But the peridot is a type of olivine (a common mineral found in lava) and can be seen as the gem quality of olivine.
Peridot, the gem from outer space!
Millions and millions of years ago, when the earth started to change from a gas cloud into a solid planet and the magma slowly cooled down into igneous rock, peridot was formed. They founded the largest and clearest specimen of peridot in magma that cooled down very very slowly. Due to the volcanic activity, when the magma and lava were flowing out of the volcano, peridot came out in the open too. The best areas for finding peridot were Egypt and Myanmar for a long time. But Hawaii and then especially the basalt rocks and the beaches are full of very small parts of peridot.
Peridot is the gem quality of olivine. One can find olivine in a lot of cooled down lava rivers’. Olivine occurs most of the time in small grains, that you cannot use for setting in jewelry. Peridot, on the other hand, is very rare and hard to find in the sizes you can use for jewelry.
Peridot is found in a few types of meteorites, on the planet Mars and on the moon (in olivine form). There are more gems found in meteorites, but the peridot particles are the only ones big enough to make jewelry from. In 1749 a meteorite falls on the earth in Siberia. The Russians discovered many pieces of peridot in the meteorite and they were big enough to use in jewelry.
Peridot occurs only in the color green!
The gem quality stone of olivine, so peridot is transparent and green. You can find peridot only in the color green, although the green color varies from light yellow-green to dark brown-green. The intensity of the color depends on the amount of iron in the mineral. There are not so many gemstones that occur only in one color, like peridot. The green color is in the mineral itself (in the base) and peridot is formed with only that mineral, without any other minerals or impurities.
Most of the time the gems are formed under high pressure. The base of a gem is a mineral, but mostly due to that pressure a few types of minerals, and so a few colors, come together and form a certain type and certain color of the gem. For instance: opal can occur in many colors, because of the combination of a few minerals, and each of that mineral brings their own color in that gem. The most valued color is dark green, but I love that lighter green best: just a matter of taste.
The color green of the peridot looks at its best in daylight, but the color does not change under artificial light. Therefore the peridot is sometimes called the ‘Evening Emerald’.
Where can you find peridot?
Peridot is originally mined in Egypt and Myanmar. Nowadays the peridot gemstones come from China, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Arizona (San Carlos Reservation), but there are mostly smaller than 3 karats. Due to the way peridot was formed, it’s understandable that peridot occurs mostly in very small particles to pebble sized specimens, that are weathered by ages of erosion by water or the wind.
In Myanmar and Brasil you will find the darker colored peridots. In South Africa, they find peridots near the diamond mines. Even the ground around those mines is green (of the peridot). In the middle of the 1990s, a rich peridot deposit was found in Pakistan, nearly at the top of a very high pass (4000 meters or 13.120 ft). Only in summer, the gems can be mined, but the quality of the peridot is very very high and larger than they found in other mines. And… it was a large deposit, so the world can be served for the moment with high quality, rather big size peridots.
The very long history of the peridot
The peridot has a history of more than 3500 years, i.e. a written history or a history deducted from finds by archaeologists. In history, the peridot was called olivine. An early record can be found in the Bible, where the breastplate of the High Priest of Jerusalem was mentioned. In that plate were 12 stones (birthstones) and one of the stones was a chrysolite or peridot and had a green color. It was known under the Hebrew name of ‘pitdah’.
In Roman times the peridot was called the ‘Evening Emerald’ since the green color did not darken at night and was still beautiful in candlelight or the light of a fire. Around 50 AC a Roman historian Plinius or Pliny wrote in one of his books that in Egypt peridot was already been mined for thousands of years. The mine in Egypt was on the island Zagbargad (just before Aswan) where they found peridots since ancient times. In the Greek history they mention this island and the mines too, but then they called the island ‘Topazios’. It is not sure what they mined exactly: it could be emeralds, but talking about the green color it is probably peridots.
Another record where peridot was mentioned, dates back to 1500 BC. In this record was written that an important peridot deposit was mined for 3500 years on the volcanic island of Zabargad/St. John in the Red Sea (east of Egypt). The mine was abandoned for centuries because the mine was exhausted and the Egyptians discovered another deposit around 1900 and started mining again.
The peridot is really connected with Egypt; it’s their national gemstone. Cleopatra had a famous emerald collection, but some of the historians think that these were actually peridots. The Egyptians consider the peridot as the ‘gemstone of the sun’ and the sun was one of their gods on ancient times.
In the Middle Ages, European Crusaders fought in the Middle East, to free the Holy Land from the Arabs. Those crusaders brought some souvenirs back to their wives and loved ones: peridots. But also the churches in those time were decorated with peridots, like the Cathedral in Cologne. And that is the first time that the Europeans saw peridots, and they loved them.
In England, the earliest use of peridot can be found in the register of the Abbey of St Albans. It says that in 1245 a bishop (named John) gave the Abbey peridots when he died. That register is translated from Latin (the origin) into English in 1705. And in that translation, we found fort he first time the word ‘peridot’ in English.
The healing capacity and the power of the peridot
The healing capacity and the power of the peridot gemstone is enormous. Just to give you an impression: It may increase confidence and assertiveness, It is known as a stone for prosperity and happiness, an important stone to use for cellular rejuvenation, giving you strong energy and helps to have a positive outlook on life, manifesting an improvement in your spirituality and health.
But also in your abundance and prosperity, and to manifest an increase in money, protection against psychic attack, will increase your self-esteem, and aid you to let go of guilt, felt from past experiences and it may also help to create an increase in love, joy and bring improved emotional health.
Some facts of the peridot
- In the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, you can find the largest cut peridot of 310 karats or 62 gram.
- Peridot is assigned to the planet Saturn.
- Peridot has been mixed up with other gemstones for ages. It has been confused with emerald (Cleopatra), with topaz or chrysolite. For centuries people in Germany thought that the 200 karat gemstones decorating the Shrine of the Three Holy Kings in the Cathedral of Cologne were emeralds. But they were peridots.
- Peridot is not a hard gemstone and scratches easily. It cannot stand great heat or pressure or fast heath changes. Best to clean it with soapy warm water (not too hot).
The women who are born in Juli/August must be very happy to have a birthstone, like a peridot. The power and the health capacity is enormous, the history is amazing and the origin is a symbol of strength. But also when the peridot is not your birthstone, don’t despair. You can wear the peridot too and benefit from the beauty that this gemstone passes on to you.
I wrote a great free e-book about birthstones with 54 awesome and crazy facts about your birthstone and the birthstone of your best friend. Click on the image or this link to get it.