This lovely transparent green stone is one of the few gemstones that are found only in one color. It is a magnesium iron silicate with the amount of iron determining the deepness of the green. The iron content can vary the color from yellow green, to olive green to a brownish green. The most valued color is a dark olive green. Peridot is the gemstone quality stone of the olivine family of rocks which are often found in lavas, but aren't gem quality.
The name, Peridot, is probably derived from the Arabic word “faridat”, for gemstone. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 6.5-7.
Peridots have been used in jewelry for thousands of years. Historically, the volcanic island of Zabargad (St. John), east of Egypt in the Red Sea was the most important source of this gem and was mined for 3500 years. There are still small deposits where the stones are gathered today. The beaches near the deposits are green with tiny crystals. Peridot is also mined in North Carolina, on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico in the United States. Other areas where it is found are Pakistan, which produces fine quality stones, Egypt, Myanmar (Burma),Australia and Brazil.
Peridot is rarely enhanced with any treatment. There is enough production from the mines around the world to meet the demand easily. Peridots are often confused with green sapphires, diopside, chrysoberyl and synthetic spinel and sometimes, Emeralds. It is believed that Cleopatra's Emerald collection was about one quarter, if not more, Peridots.
It is believed the Peridot increases strength and vitality, helps dreams become a reality and attracts love. The ancients believed that Peridot was a gift from Mother Nature to celebrate the annual creation of a new world. Leaders who wore this stone were thought to be fair, wise and gentle.
The first photograph is of some rough Peridot. The second is a Peridot that is in the Smithsonian and is 310 carats.