If you were born in August, you probably know that peridot is your birthstone but you may not know too much else about this mysterious green gem. And if you’re not an August baby, you might not even know how to pronounce it. There are actually two correct ways!
So…what is peridot, exactly?
Peridot is a form of olivine, which is a mineral made up of magnesium and iron. And, unlike many other gemstones, peridot comes in one color only: green. The iron is what provides the distinct color—the more iron it contains, the deeper the shade of green. And the deeper the shade of green, the more desirable the gem.
Where can you find it?
Most peridots form way underground in the earth’s upper mantle and are carried to the surface via volcanic eruption. The majority of the United States’ peridot supply comes from a single reserve in Arizona called the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Society, about 80 to 95 percent of the world’s production of peridot comes from the San Carlos Reservation.
Can peridots form anywhere besides underground deposits?
Yes! Some peridots have been found in meteorites that have fallen from the sky and crashed into earth. These gems are incredibly rare, and thus incredibly valuable.
When did we begin mining peridot?
Peridot is alluded to in the Bible as a stone called chrysolite, and ancient Egyptians had a fascination with the gem as they believed it could ward off evil and nightmares. Then in the Middle Ages, peridot was introduced to central Europe by the Crusaders—they used it to adorn religious objects. Finally, in the late nineteenth century, it became popular in the United States.
Today, what is peridot associated with?
Short answer: Good vibes. Long answer: A wide range of stuff, including strength, energy, positivity, happiness, emotional healing, comfort, staying power, and even helping with specific health issues like ulcers, poor vision and heart and lung disease.
Peridot can be mistaken for emerald due to the green coloring, and this happened quite a few times before advances in technology. Many historians today believe that at least parts of Cleopatra’s legendary emerald collection were, in fact, peridot. (Oops.) Additionally, the gems adorning the shrine of the Three Holy Kings in the Cologne Cathedral in Germany were accepted as emeralds for centuries; turns out, they are actually peridots.