Peridot, the mesmerizing birthstone of August, has been admired for its splendor since the ancient times. This gem is a variety of the mineral olivine and is formed deep within the mantle of the earth. It is brought to the surface by volcanic activity. As fascinating as it may sound, peridots have also been found in pallasite meteorites that contain remnants of our solar system’s birth.
The ancient Egyptians bestowed upon it the title “gem of the sun” because of the exhilarating color it displays when placed in natural daylight. It was also considered to be one of Cleopatra’s favorite gemstones with several sources even suggesting that some of the emeralds adorned by her were in fact, peridots.
According to legends, finding a peridot during the day was not an easy task. However, this gemstone’s glistening green hue could be spotted in the night with the help of a lamp. Soon it became a practice to mine for peridots only after sunset. This also led to the Romans calling the gemstone the “evening emerald”.
The beauty of a peridot can be majorly attributed to its lustrous olive green hue. It also happens to be one of the few gemstones that occurs only in one color. Idiochromatic in nature, a peridot derives its hue from the basic chemical composition rather than traces of impurities. Although found in just one color, peridot stones do vary in intensity and shade, depending on the amount of iron in their structure.
Currently, this gem is mined in various areas of Burma, Norway, Arizona, Hawaii and the islands of the Red Sea, among others. A discovery of the finest peridot stone made in Pakistan, in the early 1990s, has ensured that this gem is still readily accessible in an assortment of shapes and sizes.
There are many folklores attached to the captivating peridot. One of these includes a story about Egyptian sailors who made their way to a deserted island. On the island, they found olive colored stones scattered on the ground. These lustrous stones were then carried back to Egypt where they were cut, polished and exhibited by the royalty.
This gem was also believed to have several other properties that provided a number of benefits, including good health, relief from anxiety and abundance of wealth. It was also considered to boost self-esteem and treat depression.
In ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt, people would often set peridot in gold, and use it as a powerful talisman against nightmares and evil spirits. Other legends claimed that peridot promoted happiness and self-esteem. This stone that has been mined for thousands of years has also found a mention in the Bible under the Hebrew name "pitdah".
Hardness & Strength
Peridots have been rated 6.5 to 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness. They may not be extremely durable in comparison to many other gems, but peridot stones are still widely used in almost all types of jewelry, including everyday-wear pieces. A peridot is not particularly sensitive to acid, but it is prone to scratches.
This gem is hardly ever subjected to treatments. In rare cases, however, peridots are enhanced with colorless oils or resins to reduce the visibility of inclusions and to improve the overall clarity. Pale colored stones may be coated with green foil to give them a deeper hue. Synthetic peridots are also produced but are not common.
Quality & Grading
Peridot has a really narrow color spectrum that ranges from a deep dark olive to a lighter yellow-green color. The higher the content of iron, the deeper its green hue will be. Large gems that display a rich saturated green or slightly yellowish-green, devoid of any brown tints, are highly valued. Light toned peridots are understandably more affordable than stones with a vivid saturated green. Real peridots display the same color during the day and night, and even under artificial lighting.
Most high-quality peridots are eye-clean i.e. they do not have any inclusions visible to the naked eye. However, some of these stones can have minute chromite mineral crystals that are visible on magnification. Reflective, disk-like inclusions called "lily pads" are another type of inclusion that can be seen in peridots. Most flaws of a peridot are removed during the cutting process, after which it is used in jewelry.
Overall, peridot gems with good clarity are not rare, and therefore blurry or cloudy versions of this gemstone must be avoided.
A good quality cut significantly elevates the beauty and brilliance of a peridot. It is usually available in an assortment of shapes and cuts, such as round, oval, pear, cushion, triangle, and marquise, among others. Step cuts like square or rectangular emerald are also very popular.
This vivacious gemstone is relatively inexpensive in smaller sizes, but there is a notable rise in the worth of a stone weighing over 10 carats. Fine quality peridots weighing more than 50 carats, though rare, are also available. The bigger the stone, the more expensive the peridot price per carat will be.
The largest cut peridot weighs 319 carats and can be found at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Even though there is no standardized scale to rank peridots, they can be graded into the following categories of quality on the basis of their various properties.
The gemstones in this category comprise of the top 1% of exceptionally rare peridots. They exhibit the eye-clean property, which refers to flawless brilliance. These peridots can be distinguished from the others with their rich olive green color.
Almost 10% of all natural peridots available belong to this category. These gemstones are also eye-clean and display a yellowish-green hue.
This includes the top 33% of the available peridots. They are medium yellowish-green in color and have slight inclusions.
Light yellowish-green in color, this category includes the top 75% of available peridots that have slight to moderate inclusions.
The peridot is an exceptionally beautiful gemstone, and with a little extra care will remain lustrous for years to come. Here are a few tips that will help it stay spotless.
- Store your peridot jewelry separately from other gemstones to avoid friction.
- You could also consider wrapping it in a soft cloth and placing it inside a fabric-lined protected jewelry box.
- Avoid wearing this gem when engaging in rigorous household chores or outdoor activities.
- Keep away from cosmetics and harsh chemicals, such as cleaning agents.
- Sudden temperature change and excessive heat must be avoided as they can cause the color of the stone to fade.
- Use a mild soap and warm water solution for cleaning, and a soft cloth for drying.
- Do not use ultrasonic cleaners.
- Consider getting your peridot jewelry professionally cleaned, at least once in a year.