Peridot Gemstone and its Properties.
Peridot is a sophisticated gem that has rightly regained its position as one of the most popular gems in the world.
Peridot’s shades of green are caused by the presence of iron and it often has a greasy lustre. The gemstone is named from the French word “peritot” meaning “gold” because the mineral can vary towards this colour. It is normally too soft to be used as the gemstone in bracelets but is very popular for earrings, pendants, rings, clasps and brooches.
Small crystals are relatively common, but large, good quality ones are rare. Finding a stone of 5cts or more causes excitement in some mines. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, has cut a stone of 310 carats.
Some 3000 years ago the main source for Peridot in ancient times was “Topazos Island” in the Red Sea. Then the stones were used to carve talismans in ancient Egypt. Europeans brought the crystals back from the Crusades to decorate church plates and robes. It is named in the Bible as “Chrysolite”.
In the 19th century, the mines on Zebirget produced millions of dollars worth of Peridot, however today they remain almost silent. United States sources include Arizona, New Mexico and Salt Lake Crater.
This is one of only a few gems that is available in just one colour, green. The greens vary from bottle green to an almost yellowish, olive oil colour.
Before you are tempted to research on the relationship between Peridot and Topaz, there isn’t one. Today the name is used to describe a totally different gem family.
Having long been associated with luck, many cultures have celebrated this unusual and magical stone in their myths and legends. This is due to its apparent power to ward off evil spirits.
Historically, if the gem was set in gold or any precious metal, its capability to bring the bearer luck and good fortune were intensified even more.
Today Peridot is not only the birthstone of August, it is associated with the star sign of Capricorn and used to celebrate the 16th Wedding Anniversary.
The Crusaders bought Peridot to Europe in the Middle Ages, transporting stones from St. John’s Island (Topazos Island) in the Red Sea, where it had been mined for over 3,500 years. They then often used it for ecclesiastical purposes. It was the most popular gemstone during the Baroque period. It was forgotten for many centuries and rediscovered only around 1900.
The popular cuts are table and step cuts, sometimes also brilliant cut, especially when set in gold.
In Russia there are some cut peridots which came out of a meteorite that fell to earth in eastern Siberia in 1749. So is it possible that it is found somewhere else in space? In October 2003, possibly the most incredible gem find of all time happened when a NASA spacecraft identified Peridot on Mars.
The gem is pleochroic, meaning that it is possible to see different shades from different angles. It is also an idiochromatic gem, which means that its colour is derived from the basic chemical composition of the gem. In Peridot’s case this is from the iron content. Most gems receive their distinctive colours from impurities within the gem, but this is not the case with Peridot.
Cutting the gemstone can be quite tricky as it has high birefringence, meaning the gem significantly bends light as it enters the stone. This makes the angle of the facets on the pavilion crucial.
It is also a brittle gemstone with a strong cleavage . Both of these factors mean that the Lapidarist must take extra care while faceting this gem.
In early days it was thought that this gem was invisible in daylight and, because it could absorb the rays of the sun, it had the ability to glow in the dark. Therefore the miners only worked at night when they believed they could see the gem more clearly.
A truly lovely popular gemstone and normally affordable to everyone.
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