Peridot is a beautiful gemstone, with a diverse history and intriguing science. It is only ever green, thanks to its unique chemistry, although the shades and intensity of the colour dramatically vary depending on the location where it formed. The gem makes a delightful gift for a loved one who prefers the warm, summery colour and is available at all price points. Another name for the jewel is ‘chrysolite’, derived from the Greek words for ‘gold’ and ‘stone’, in reference to the soft golden-green tones found with the crystalline structure.
The gemstone is created during times of intense heat, where volcanic activity creates igneous rock and stashes of crystal deep beneath the crust of the Earth. Peridots have been discovered all over, from Kashmir, Egypt, Burma, China and Arizona, with the green colour deepening in intensity depending on a lesser amount of iron present in the crystal. The Mohs scale measures the jewels between 6.5 and 7, so care is necessary to safeguard them from scrapes, bangs and scratches.
The Ancient Egyptians mined a Red Sea island, Zabargad, thousands of years ago. The mine supplied them with fine golden-green gemstones for use in jewellery. An infamous wearer of the gem is believed to have been Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, the last of her dynasty and a brilliantly intelligent women who held the armies of Rome at bay from her homeland for decades. Peridots have also adorned religious treasures throughout time, popping up in Medieval texts and church items from the time of the Crusades.
A gold-set peridot in a bangle or ring makes for an eye-catching present, while drop earrings with peridot fixtures would enhance green eyes beautifully. The soft golden tones inherent within the gem bring highlights of blonde hair to the forefront or compliment tanned skin and pair particularly well with summer clothing in lighter colours and tones than heavy cold weather gear.
Peridot is the birthstone for August babies and is often given as a gift for the 15th or 16th anniversary of marriage. Its warm golden green tones make it the perfect summer colour and it works particularly well mounted in gold - some say gold even enhances peridots special properties of banishing nightmares, lethargy and depression. Pliny the Elder, an Ancient Roman writer, suggested that wearing the gemstone on one’s right arm could increase its abilities tenfold.
The folklore, fairytales and spiritual aspects of the jewel span millennia and varied cultures. Peoples throughout the ages have believed that peridot cleanses the body and mind, aiding with digestive issues, psychological distress and forms of emotional upheaval. It has often been used as a protective talisman, especially as it seems to glow when placed beneath artificial light sources with a strange radiance, which is why the gem is sometimes referred to as the ‘Evening Emerald’.
When looking after your gemstone, keep it clean with regular washings in lukewarm soapy water to maintain its shine. Use a soft cloth to dry and polish it after a brief soaking, avoiding harsh chemicals or brushes that could scratch the surface. Ensure it stays beautiful by safeguarding it from extreme temperature fluctuations that can severely harm the gemstone, so avoid steam and ultrasonic cleaners.
Peridot has an ages-long, rich history from Egypt and Ancient Rome, to Medieval Europe and onwards into the present day. The exciting folklore surrounding its properties render it a thoughtful gift for almost anyone and the scintillating greenish-gold colour works for both casual and formal wear. The peridot has often been left in the dark by stories of precious emeralds, but it has a wonderful charm and beauty all its own.