Peridot is the birthstone for the month of August and the 15th anniversary stone.
For centuries, peridot has been worn by priests, pirates and commoners in an endeavor to see the life in a brighter way. Known to Egyptians as the “gem of the sun” because of its tinge of yellow, it was believed to bring warmth and happiness.
Ancient romans adorned it to get out of depression. Legend also says that if the gemstone is set in gold, it will develop its full potential as a talisman to ward of terrors of the night and bad dreams. However, according to Pliny the Elder, the Great Roman authority on such matters, peridot must be worn on the right arm to work its strongest magic.
Throughout time, peridot has always been confused with many other gemstones such as topaz and emerald. Many emeralds of royal treasures turned out to be peridots! Some historians even speculated Cleopatra’s famous emerald collection may be peridots! The Shrine of the Three Holy Kings in Germany’s Cologne Cathedral is supposedly decorated with a large emerald, but was later identified a peridot.
In fact, peridot is sometimes called the Evening Emerald. Unlike other gems, its color does not change under artificial lighting. In ancient Egypt, peridot was often dug up in the night because it was said to be impossible to spot by the day. The faint glimmer under moonlight or the lantern made it easier to mine after dark.
Because of its exceptional color, peridot has been used in jewelry since antiquity. From the mid 1800s, peridot was a favored stone in jewelry. Its popularity peaked during the aesthetic period of the Victorian era. Edward VII of England designated the peridot as his favorite gemstone. Almost every school of the day used this gemstone for their designs, from the Pre-Raphaelites, the Arts and Crafts movement, Art Noveau to the Edwardian designers.
Today, this birthstone is associated with love, truth, faithfulness and loyalty. It’s worn to help find spiritual bliss lost beneath our daily clutter. Besides being a birthstone, Peridots make for great gifts to be exchanged between friends, as it is known to bring an openness, warmth and happiness.
Color is the most important quality factor, and for peridot, its color ranges from pure green to yellowish green to greenish yellow. A grade A peridot would be one of richly saturated green without any hints of yellow or brown. Fine colors tend to occur in stones weighing 10 carats and above. However, pure green stones are rare. Most peridots are more yellowish green. Fine colors tend to occur in stones weighing 10 carats and above. Expect these qualities from Myanmar and Pakistan. In terms of clarity, the best quality one would, of course, be an eye clean one.
The ancient Egyptians mined peridot on the Red Sea island of Zabargad, the source for many large fine peridots in the world’s museums. The Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun.” Today this gem is still prized for its restful yellowish green hues and long history. Large strongly-colored, examples can be spectacular, and attractive smaller gems are available for jewelry at all price points.
The best-quality peridot has no eye-visible inclusions, with perhaps a few tiny black spots—actually minute mineral crystals—visible under magnification. Other inclusions common in peridot are reflective, disk-shaped inclusions called “lily pads.”
With skilled cutting maximizing its beautiful bodycolor, peridot can be a stunning gem. It’s available in a wide variety of shapes and cutting styles, including ovals, pears, rounds, emerald cuts, cushion cuts, triangle cuts, and marquise shapes.
Care For Peridot
Peridot is 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. It has fair to good toughness. Peridot is durable enough for jewelry wear but should be worn with some care so as not to scratch it or subject it to hard blows that can fracture it.
Rapid or uneven heat can cause peridot to fracture. Peridot is stable to light but is easily attacked by sulfuric acid, and less easily by hydrochloric acid. It can also be attacked over a long period of time by acid perspiration.
Warm, soapy water is the best method for cleaning peridot. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are not recommended.