called the volcanic gem because it is born in fire, small
peridot (pronounced "pear-uh-doe") crystals are
often found in basaltic rocks created by volcanoes and in
meteors that fall to earth. A few of these "extra-terrestrial
gems" have even been faceted into cut gemstones!
is the gem form of the mineral olivine. Because the iron which
creates the color is an integral part of its structure, it
is found only in green, ranging from a summery light yellowish
green to a "7-up bottle" green.
green gem was mined in ancient Egypt on an island called Zeberget.
According to legend, the mining was done at night because
lit was said that the rough stone could not be easily seen
during the day. Zeberget was overrun with poisonous snakes
that made mining a very dangerous occupation until one Pharaoh
finally had them all driven into the sea. The Romans called
it the "emerald of the evening," since its green color was
visible even by lamplight.
back to Europe by the Crusaders, peridot was used to adorn
medieval churches. Large stones more than 200 carats in size
were used to decorate the Shrine of the Three Magi at the
is considered a protection stone: it was used drive away evil
spirits. This power was thought to be intensified when the
stone was set in gold. It's mystical quality was also said
to increase the effects of any medicine drunk from a goblet
carved from the gemstone.
most peridot is mined by Native Americans in Arizona on the
San Carlos Reservation. Fine large peridot are found in Myanmar
(formerly Burma) and it is also mined in China and Sri Lanka.
In 1994, an exciting new deposit of peridot was discovered
in Pakistan, producing stones of the highest quality ever
found. The new mine is located 15,000 feet above sea level
in the far west of the Himalayas, in the Pakistan portion
of Kashmir. Beautiful large crystals of peridot have been
found, some that cut magnificent large gemstones (one stone
was over 300 carats!). This new discovery, combined with fashion's
enduring love for lime green, has revived interest in peridot
and increased the popularity of this gemstone.
peridot is referred to in Hawaii as the fire goddess Pele's
tears, most of the peridot sold there today is from Arizona,
even though peridot is produced by Hawaii's volcanoes. The
island of Oahu even has beaches made out of olivine grains
but unfortunately they are much too small to cut into peridot!
article written by Mike McGinnis and published originally
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