Peridot is another one of the less well known gemstones, but its vivid lime green colour is the perfect complement to any summer wardrobe and it’s this month’s birthstone. We thought you might be interested in finding out a little about the origins of this fabulous gemstone.
Photo: left – rough Pakistan peridot; right – our Peridot Passion (diamond and peridot pendant)
Peridot forms deep inside the earth and was brought to the earth’s surface by volcanoes. Some of the earliest records of the stone can be found in the Bible; Roman historian Pliny also wrote about it around 50 AD. The first discovered source of this gem was on the Egyptian island Zagbargad and some historians believe that the Pharaohs appreciated this gem so much that they enslaved the residents of the island and made them mine the stone.
In the middle ages, peridot was brought back to Europe from the Middle East by Crusaders, and this was when European interest in the stone was awoken. It can be found in many medieval European churches where it adorns sacred treasures or altars including one of the shrines in the famous Cologne Cathedral. During the baroque period, the beautiful stone enjoyed a brief heyday, and then it somehow faded into oblivion.
But in the 1990s everything changed when an incredibly rich deposit of the finest peridot was discovered in Pakistan. Unfortunately the location of the deposit – in a pass located at 4,000 metres – meant that mining could only be carried out in the summer but the stones were finer than anything that had ever been seen before.
And the deposits were so rich that the demand for peridot can, for the present, be met.
As a way of illustrating the special quality of the peridot from Pakistan, these stones are offered as 'Kashmir peridot'. Skilled gemstone cutters have succeeded in creating some fascinatingly beautiful one-off stones of more than 100 carats from some of the large, fine, clear crystals with their magnificent rich green!
The peridot is one of the few gemstones that come in one colour only. The rich, green colour with the slight tinge of gold is caused by very fine traces of iron. The intensity of the colour depends on the amount of iron actually present. The colour itself can vary over all shades of yellowish green and olive, and even to a brownish green but the vibrant lime green stones are the most popular. Peridot is not particularly hard but it is easy to look after and fairly robust.
The most beautiful stones come from the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, the peridot gemstone also exists in Myanmar, China, the USA, Africa and Australia. Stones from East Burma, now known as Myanmar, are vivid light green. Peridot from Arizona, where it is popularly used in native American jewellery, often has yellowish or gold-brown nuances.
We have quite a few pieces featuring peridot coming in a range of prices. Check them out here.
And take a look at our handmade award-winning bangle which was designed by Catherine. Peridot is just one of a myriad of gemstones featured in this piece that won two awards at Goldsmiths Craftmanship & Design Awards 2013.
Research sources: gemstone.org; American Gem Society