Where the world comes to find out all about Peridots
What is a Peridot
Many people ask, what is a peridot? The peridot is not a gem stone that you see much written about. It has had a sort of sleepy life until recently when it has started to become popular again.
The Peridot has been used primarily as jewelery through the ages. The first recorded use was in Egyptian jewelery from before 100 years BC with stones from an island in the Red Sea off the Egyptian cost being used at that time. Since then it has also been used in Rome, Europe and gained much popularity during the baroque period for a short while. Recently, in Kashmir, stones of exceptional quality, color and transparency have been found and have helped to make the peridot more popular again.
This gemstone has garnered three names in its life. 'peridot' or 'chrysolite', from the Greek. 'Gold stone', and 'olivine'. The peridot is a form of the mineral olivine. In the gemstone trade it is called 'peridot', derived from the Greek word 'peridona', which means 'to give richness to'.
Curiously, the peridot is one of the very few gemstones that come in only one colour. This is caused by very fine traces of iron contained within the stone. The degree or intensity of the color is caused by how much iron there is in the gemstone. So, although there is only one color the quality and depth of the color can vary. Peridot is also not very hard, like a diamond, but softer, being only 6.5 or 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness where diamond is a ten and talc a one. Nevertheless it is still a robust little stone and fairly easy to look after if treated well.
Some of the best stones come from the border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan but peridots can also be found in Africa, Australia, China, Myanmar (East Burma) Sri Lanka and the USA among others.
Cutting a peridot can be difficult as it cracks easily. It requires some study first to find the coarser inclusions and remove them. Once this is completed the stone is then very stable and can be worn without any special care other than the normal standard care given to any valuable jewel.
Interestingly, peridot is the only gemstone that has been found in meteorites, giving rise to the idea that some gemstones may originate somewhere out there.
Whatever the case, to know what a peridot is, is to like and enjoy peridots even more.
The chemistry of peridot
Peridot is a semi-precious stone that is cut from gem quality forsteritic olivine. Olivine derives its name from the characteristic green hue of the mineral. The forsteritic subtype of olivine is composed mainly of magnesium and produces the more highly valued luminescent lime-green color in peridot. Iron is also present in olivine. Depending on the predominance of iron over magnesium, the peridot gem assumes an increasingly golden hue, finally to become pure brown or gold at the other end of the olivine spectrum. This subtype of the mineral is called fayalite olivine and it contains very little magnesium.
Where is peridot mined?
Among the most ancient gem stones, references to the stone are made in the Bible. Some authorities even suspect that the famed emerald mines of Cleopatra were really peridot mines. Whatever the case, peridot seems to have been a great favorite of ancient Egyptian royalty who habitually paid for huge quantities of the stone from an island in the Red Sea which is called variously as St. John's Island, Zabargad or Zebirget. In recent times, other locations have yielded peridot stones with different grades and colors.
Peridots with lime green color are most often found in Pakistan, Burma and Zabargad. The mines in Pakistan were only recently discovered but they yield some of the highest grades of this gem stone. Bluish green peridots are found mostly in Burma while yellowish peridots are mined in the USA and China. Brazilian peridot is characteristically light or yellow green in color. The world's largest supplier of peridot is held to be Peridot Mesa located in Arizona where, it seems, the native Indians had been using peridot charms and jewelry for a long time. Peridot has also been found embedded in metallic ore in Pallasite meteorites and is apparently also abundant in other planets, such as Mars.
Although peridot stones are not difficult to come by, gem-quality items are rather rare.
The physical properties of peridot
As a crystal, peridot has a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This means that although it is suitable for making into a gem stone, it is not particularly resistant to abrasion. It is softer that garnet, for instance. Its hardness can be compared to that of a quartz crystal. As mentioned, peridot is typically of a green hue. Because of this, the relatively rare brown peridots, some of which may be of exceptional clarity and very brilliant luminosity make very elegant and unique pieces of jewelry. Typically, the stone is found in sizes of from 2 to 7 carats. However, in Burma and Pakistan, larger carat samples are not unusual. It should be noted that peridot is unique among the softer gem stones in that it is considered tastefully correct to set it in 14 carat or more gold and platinum as well as to use diamonds with it.
One of the oldest gem stones
Peridot is one of the oldest and among the most revered gem stones used by man. Notably, ancient Egyptian nobles and royalty had a particular predilection for this stone and procured enormous amounts of it from the Red Sea periodically. As a matter of fact, the oldest known piece is a string of peridot beads found in Egypt. In spite of its great antiquity, peridot still finds its place today in the collections of gem lovers.
The beauty of peridot
Peridot, at its highest grade is a luminous lime green stone with extraordinary clarity and luminosity. Unlike other gem stones, it does not depend as much on external light for its brilliance because of its peculiar crystal construction. As a matter of fact, the ancients would mine this gem during the evening because they considered it easier to identify the stone when it glowed in the darkness. Actually, peridote is an excellent evening accessory. Its glow is intensified and made richer by dim light.
Antique peridot - a good investment
Antique peridot gems, crafted during and following the Victorian period, show clearly, by their masterful execution, how valued this gem was and still is. Four distinct trends in jewelry-making preceded our own modern era and reproductions of these antique styles are very popular pieces. As a matter of fact, people who are collecting antiques should consider investing in antique peridot jewelry. Because of the continued popularity of this gem stone, the value of antique pieces is likely to increase with the years.
Victorian peridot jewelry
The jewelry of the Victorian period, a period which extends from 1836 - 1901, showed strong traces of romanticism. Although by that time, the Romantic period in art had just ended, the temperament of the Queen still held fast to the ideas of Romanticism. Royal predisposition reflected itself in the art of jewel crafting. Frequent motifs encountered in Victorian peridot jewelry are hearts, birds, florals and other motifs that remind one of the natural and the idyllic. Also, in keeping with the strong character of Queen Victoria, jewelry during this era was crafted along bulky and masculine lines. Recognizable traces of Victorian jewelry can still be found in modern day pieces.
Art Nouveau jewelry
During this phase in the history of jewelry design from 1890 - 1919, the craftsman was given great liberty to express himself. The peridot became increasingly popular at this time. Because the stone was relatively cheaper; the artist-cutter could give free reign to his creativity in designing the cuts. This was exactly in keeping with the basic idea behind art nouveau jewelry, which was "art for art's sake." Examples of jewelry from this period still feature the same old motifs but executed along more graceful and feminine lines. Flowers became more detailed. Butterflies were very popular. Curved and finer lines characterized the Art Nouveau look in jewelry.
Edwardian peridot jewelry
The peridot was King Edward's lucky charm and during this period (1901 - 1920), the popularity of the peridot reached unprecedented heights. Although properly the birthstone of people who are born in August, the peridot was also worn by those who desired to avail of its power to give luck, physical health and protection from evil influences. The style of Edwardian jewelry still retains the circular embellishments of Art Nouveau but the lines are more reserved. However, there is a marked improvement in crafting technique over Victorian jewelry.
Art Deco peridot jewelry
This period extends from 1920 to 1935 and is marked by the increasing individualism in jewelry. People began designing jewelry according to their own tastes; we see many new types of designs for this period. The lines of the jewelry were more streamlined and the lack of bulging intersections is notable. In a sense this period was a return to the idiom of the Art Nouveau period but without its romanticism. If Art Nouveau was romantic expression, Art Deco was intellectual expression.
Antique or Reproduction are both good
Genuine antique peridot jewelry may sometimes be a bit expensive, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Very rarely, you may find a piece that is just around $100. However, the value of this investment is certain to increase over time. History has proven that the peridot has always been a favorite gem not only of famous persons but of all gem lovers. That is because in spite of the great beauty of the stone, it remains relatively inexpensive.
On the other hand, if your interest in antique peridot jewelry is to wear them, you might consider buying excellent reproductions of antique peridot items. Modern gem crafting techniques have improved tremendously and gem makers are now making recreations that even surpass the originals in design and technique. Who knows that in a few years from now, your peridot ring shall be a valuable vintage item.
Either way, if you love the eternal green of salads you will love your peridot jewelry.
If you want to buy peridot then there are a number of points to consider.
1. Decide firstly what sort of peridot you want. Is it in a ring, a bracelet, a pair of earrings maybe or just the loose stones.
2. Your budget is also one of the first things to sort out. How much can you or do you want to spend? This will determine the value of the peridot you buy. I suggest you buy at the top of your budget to ensure that you get the very best possible for your money. Shop around. Take plenty of time to browse and see, not just what is available, but what prices they are. Many times by browsing around, one can find a bargain or something cheaper elsewhere.
3. When you find what you are looking for the next step is to ensure that you get value for money. This means knowing your dealer or seller, especially if you are buying on line. Is the dealer contactable? Do they have a fixed address, phone numbers, fax and email where you can contact them? Is it possible to speak to a living person? If it is a jewelers close by you visit this part is easy of course. But still you need to ensure that the dealer is genuine and bona fide. Is the dealer a member of the Better Business Bureau? A member of the Chamber of Commerce? All these things, while not strictly necessary, do go a long way to establishing the worthiness of the dealer before you buy peridot jewelery from him.
4. What is the dealers or jewelers terms of service? Can you get a refund if the quality of the peridot jewelery or gemstone is not up to par? This applies especially when buying peridots online as you do not really know the quality of the peridot until you get it home and can examine it in natural light.
5. Does the peridot carry a certificate of authenticity that shows and describes the peridot? Is it possible to get one? Is it worth while getting one? If the peridot is very small then likely it would not be but even then you would still like to have some guarantee from the seller that the peridot is all he or she described it to be. For a very valuable stone you would definitely need to get a certificate for the stone from a Gemological laboratory.
6. Now you have established the dealers credentials, and have picked the peridot or peridot jewelery you want the time comes to negotiate for a good deal. You might be surprised to know that many jewelers, even some online ones, will negotiate a price. In today's market where money is tight and the jewelery market is slowed, many jewelers will go that extra length to make a sale. The mark up can be pretty high on peridot jewelery and you can usually get a 10 percent and sometimes more discount depending on the piece and your negotiating skills.
Lastly, common sense and due diligence are perhaps the most important points to consider when you want to buy peridot jewelery or gemstones.