Peridot is the gem form of the mineral olivine, and its beauty results from the extreme conditions that facilitate its formation. The green gem is found in rocks created by volcanoes and in some cases, it forms as a result of meteors that land on the earth’s surface. However, the extraterrestrial peridot is much less common than that formed deep within the earth under great heat and pressure.
The fresh lime green color of peridot is probably its most unique feature. Ancient Romans often referred to it as the evening emerald because its green hue was especially vivid in the lamplight, making it look like deep green emeralds. This is one of the few gemstones that come in one color. The intensity of the color is dependent on the amount of iron present in its composition, Shades of peridot range from yellow-green to brownish green.
Dating back 4000 years, the tiny St. John’s Island (now known as the Egyptian island of Zabargard) is documented as the very first source of peridot. Crusaders who visited the island are said to have introduced the gem to Europe when they returned from battle. Peridot is also mentioned as Chrysolite in many ancient references, including the Bible. The early Christians considered it sacred and Catholic Bishops still wear a peridot and amethyst ring to symbolize purity. It was also considered a gift from Mother Nature and Napoleon is even said to have made a gift of peridot to Josephine as a symbol of his undying love.
According to folklore, peridot is thought to bring good luck and peace to the wearer. The stone was associated with the sun and ancient Egyptians believed it to wade off evil spirits. Over the years, the gemstone has been considered to have healing properties, especially for the eyes, lungs, heart, and stomach. In Hawaii, the gemstone symbolizes the tears of the goddess Pele. In fact, certain Hawaiian beaches are strewn with tiny grains of peridot that are too small to cut.
The gem has been found in ruins of ancient Greece and Egypt. However, the Zabargard (St. John’s Island) produces some of the prized versions of the gem. The island was rediscovered about 100 years ago and small quantities of the gem are still produced there. However, there are several other places from which the gemstone is mined around the world including Australia, Brazil, China, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mexico, Myanmar, Norway, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and several States in the U.S. High-quality gemstones are commercially mined in Saudi Arabia while Pakistan and China are known to yield the largest amounts.
The prices and value of peridot vary tremendously and are based on the size and quality of the particular gemstone. Peridot is considered one of the more affordable green stones available. Generally, darker versions of the stone are more expensive. For instance, the price for medium or darker shades of the stone might go for about 45-70 dollars per carat, while lighter shades could go for about 35 dollars per carat.