The vivid, slightly golden shimmering green of Peridot is the ideal gemstone colour to
complement a light summertime outfit. This is no surprise – Peridot, after all, is assigned
to the summer month of August.
Peridot is an ancient and yet currently very popular gemstone. It is so old that it can be
found even in Egyptian jewellery from the early second millennium BC. The stones used
in those days came from an occurrence on a little volcanic island in the Red Sea, about
70 km off the Egyptian coast, off Assuan, which was rediscovered only around 1900 and
has been completely exploited since. Peridot, however, is also a very modern stone, for
only a few years ago Peridot occurrences were discovered in the Cashmere region, and
the stones from there show a unique beauty of colour and transparency, so that the
image of the stone, which was somewhat dulled over the ages, has received an efficient
The ancient Romans were already quite fond of the gemstone and coveted the brilliant
green sparkle, which does not change either in artificial light. They already named the
stone “Evening Emerald”. Peridot is found in Europe in many medieval churches
decorating several treasures, like, for example, in the Cologne Cathedral. In the era of
Baroque the deep green gemstone experienced another short flourishing, before it
Spectacular “Cashmere Peridot”
But suddenly, around the middle of the 1990s, Peridot was the great sensation on the
Gemstone Trade Fairs all around the world. The reason: In Pakistan there had been
found a sensationally rich occurrence of finest Peridot on a rough mountainside, in
about 4,000 m height. The extremely hard climatic conditions only allowed mining to go
on through the summer months, and yet the unusually large and fine crystals and rocks
were brought down into the valley. These stones were of finer quality than anything else
ever seen before, and the occurrence proved so rich that the high demand can be met
without problems at present.
In order to underline the outstanding quality of such Peridot from Pakistan the stones
have been termed “Cashmere-Peridot”, reminding of the fine Cashmere Sapphires.
Creative gemstone cutters have in fact succeeded to create fascinating and beautiful
unique stones of over 100 karats from some of the larger and fine crystals in a deep and
breathtakingly beautiful green.
The depth of green depends on iron
The gemstone is actually known under three names: Peridot, Chrysolith (derived from
the Greek word “goldstone”) and Olivin, because Peridot is the gemstone variety of the
Olivin mineral. In the gemstone trade it is generally called Peridot, a name derived from
the Greek “peridona”, meaning something like “giving plenty”.
Peridot is one of the few gemstones which exist only in one colour. Finest traces of iron
account for the deep green colour with a slight golden hue. Chemically Peridot is just an
iron-magnesium-silicate, and the intensity of colour depends on the amount of iron
contained. The colour as such can come in any variation from yellow-green and olive to
brownish green. Peridot is not especially hard – it only achieves about 6.5 to 7 on the
Mohs´ scale – and yet it is easy to care for and quite robust. Very rare treasures indeed,
however, are Peridot-Cat’s Eye and Star-Peridot.
The most beautiful stones come from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. Peridot as
gemstone does also exist in Myanmar, China, the USA, Africa and Australia. Stones from
East Burma, today’s Myanmar, show a vivid green with fine silky inclusions. Peridot from
the American state of Arizona, where it is quite popular in Native Indian jewellery, often
shows a yellowish to golden brown shade.
Uncomplicated – but not for the cutter
Peridot is cut according to its crystal structure, usually in classical table and facetted
cuts, round, antique, octagonal or oval shaped. Smaller crystals are cut as calibrated
stones, larger ones are shaped by gemstone designers to fancy unique specimen
stones. The material which is rich in inclusions is worked as cabochons, because this
shape will provide the best effect for the fine silky inclusions.
Gemstone cutters know that this stone is not easy to process. The rough crystals can be
devious and are easy to break. The tensions existing inside the crystal are often quite
considerable. When the cutter has removed the most disturbing inclusions, however,
Peridot is a jewellery stone which is excellently suited to daily wear, without requiring
Ideal summer stone
Peridot is a gain for the green gemstone’ colour palette. There is trend to use it not only
as individual stone, but also in jewellery series. And since the world of fashion has just
discovered a preference for the colour green, the popularity of this deep green gemstone
has increased accordingly.
And the rich occurrences in Pakistan and Afghanistan have provided the market with
sufficient raw material, so that the individual taste and each budget can be met. But if the
“right” stone for you is a large and transparent one, intensely coloured, be prepared:
they are quite rare and valuable. Peridot is a gemstone which one should definitely get to
know. Its fine pistachio green or olive green ideally complements a light summertime
*****Information about gems on this page provided by international colored gemstone association website.
For more information please visit www.gemstone.org.