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The Peridot Gemstone

The citrus green hue of the peridot gemstone is distinct and eye-catching. Lighter in tone than the jungle-green emerald and with a brighter sparkle than jade, the peridot has its own rich history, symbolism, and chemical make-up. Peridots are often considered a lesser-known gem. However, they have been admired since ancient history, and many still choose peridots over emeralds - especially those who are looking for something a little unusual.

Peridot Jewellery
Peridot Gemstone
Antique Peridot Jewellery

What is peridot?

Peridot, pronounced 'pair-uh-doe', known for its rich green hue, is one of the only gemstones that is only found in a single colour. The peridot gemstone is formed in volcanic areas, particularly in silica-poor igneous rocks, such as basalts. The peridot gemstone is a type of Olivine, a magnesium iron silicate. It is the iron input that gives the peridot its famous green colour - the deeper the green, the more iron present in the chemical makeup of the gemstone.

It is particularly rare to find peridot of gemstone quality, and most peridots that are found are pebble-sized specimens. What's more, the peridot is the softest of the translucent gemstones, with a hardness just above that of glass (6.5 on the Mohs scale). However, when a perfect peridot gem is found, faceted and mounted in jewellery, the effect is stunning.

Today, the finest quality peridot gemstones are found in The Canary Islands, China, Brazil, Norway, Hawaii, Australia, Brazil and South Africa.

Types of peridot include:

  • Fayalite olivine: a variation of the green gemstone that is rich in iron.

  • Forsterite olivine: the magnesium-dominant variation of the gemstone.

Peridot Ring
Antique Peridot Ring
Peridot Jewellery

The history of the peridot gemstone

The word peridot originates from the Arabic word, 'faridat', meaning 'gem'. Throughout history, this gemstone has been treasured and held in high esteem. The ancient Egyptians loved the gemstone so much that they went out of their way to keep its only known location (the volcanic island of Zebargad in the Red Sea) secret from the rest of the world. There is even evidence to suggest that Cleopatra’s frequently depicted royal jewels were actually peridot, rather than emerald as previously believed.

Although the peridot gemstone became less famous after the fall of the Egyptian empire, there is evidence of the gems entering Europe with early crusaders, and it is thought to have been held in high esteem amongst medieval treasures.

Today, the peridot can still be seen as part of magnificent cultural displays, as well as set in antique jewellery. The reliquary in Cologne cathedral, for example, which is said to hold the bones of the Three Magi is ornamented with a 200-carat peridot. In addition, the Gold Festival Throne which is housed in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace is decorated with 957 peridots.

The meaning of the peridot gemstone

The peridot is known to be the stone of compassion and it is believed to summon good health, a balanced mind, and restful sleep. Many of the legends around the bright green peridot revolve around love and calmness, and this gemstone is thought to attract these qualities, while also bringing a sense of renewal.

There are also many myths and legends about how exactly the peridot should be worn in order to work as a positive talisman. The Roman philosopher, Pliny the Elder, decreed that peridot must be worn on the right arm to work its magic. In other legends, it is believed that a peridot set in yellow gold will provide the most powerful talisman and work to dispel nightmares and terrifying visions – this belief relates to the stone's ability to glow like hot coal under candlelight or lamplight.

As well as this, the peridot is considered to be the stone of friendship and creativity. The gift of peridot or a piece of peridot jewellery is thought to strengthen a friendship or a relationship, helping to maintain that special bond over many years. One traditional rhyme even goes so far as to warn August babies (as peridot is one of the gemstones of August) that: "The August-born without this stone, ‘tis said, must live unloved alone."

Antique Peridot
Peridot Necklace
Peridot Pendant

For a close friend, a partner, or anyone that you want to express your appreciation of, a piece of peridot jewellery would make the ideal gift. Anyone who enjoys their birthday in August is especially suited to this stone, and if you're looking for August birthstone gift ideas, we have plenty for you to choose from here at AC Silver. For an alternative August birthstone idea, you could also consider Spinel, the second birthstone for this month.

Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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