PERIDOT: August Birthstone
Peridot is the August birthstone and the 16th anniversary gemstone. It is believed to derive from the Arabic word ‘faridat’ meaning ‘gem’, some scholars agree the word peridot is rooted in the Greek word ‘peridona’ which means ‘giving plenty’. This may explain why peridot is associated with prosperity and good fortune.
Peridot History & Formation
The peridot birthstone is the gem variety of the mineral olivine: found in peridotite rock from the Earth’s upper mantle. It's bright green color comes from iron deposits in the mineral. Peridot is known for being formed under extreme conditions, as it can be found in the hardened lava that carried it from deep within
Earth’s mantle as well as in meteorites that traveled from outer space.
Peridot has always been associated with light. In fact, the Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun.” The use of peridot in jewelry and other applications dates as far back as the ancient Egyptians from around 1500 BC, making it one of the oldest gemstones. Early records suggest that peridot was first sourced from the Egyptian Island of Zabargad in the Red Sea. This was the source for many large fine peridots that are in prestigious museums around the world. In fact, the world’s largest peridot is a 310 carat gemstone in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
Some historians believe that Cleopatra’s famous emerald collection might actually have been peridot. People in medieval times continued to confuse peridot with emerald. For centuries, people believed the gems adorning the shrine of the Three Holy Kings in Germany’s Cologne Cathedral were emeralds. They are, in fact, peridots.
Today, the majority of the commercial standard peridots come from Arizona. In fact, the world’s most productive area for the yellow-green standard sized peridots is at the San Carlos in Arizona. Other sources of this August birthstone are Pakistan, China, and Brazil.
Beautiful, yellowish green peridot has been treasured since earliest times. It is readily available for many types of jewelry and can be very affordable and attractive. When buying peridot, it can generally be assessed with the same criteria as diamonds: color, clarity, cut and carat weight to determine the value.
- COLOR. Peridot is one of the few gemstones that comes in only one color: green. Peridot’s color ranges from pure green to yellowish green to greenish yellow. Although the best peridot is a pure grass green, most peridot is yellowish-green and is the most common peridot color seen in jewelry. The gem’s colors tend to be at their finest in stones weighing 10 carats and above. Lower-quality peridot is brownish. The higher-quality stones have an intense color.
- CLARITY. Most fine peridot is eye clean. Tiny black spots might be visible with magnification. Other inclusions common in peridot are reflective, disk-shaped inclusions called “lily pads.” Inclusions are common in larger stones and tend to be milky in appearance. The number of inclusions will affect the value of the stone.
- CUT. Peridot's transparency is used to its full potential by faceting it. It is available in many shapes and cuts. Production includes all the standard gem shapes such as round, oval, pear, cushion, triangle, and marquise shapes. The cut does not affect the color in any way and so the value is not necessarily affected.
- CARAT WEIGHT. The gem is relatively inexpensive in smaller sizes, but prices rise for gems above 4 carats or larger than 10×8 mm. The finest large peridots come from Myanmar and more recently, from a source high in the Himalayas of Pakistan. More-standard sizes and qualities come mostly from the Arizona and China.
With a hardness of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Scale, although strong and durable, peridot is still softer than many other gemstones. Cleaning peridot is a delicate process. Intense temperature or climate changes should also be avoided, so make sure to never use a heat steamer or an ultrasonic cleaner. The safest way to clean this August birthstone is to use a soft-bristle brush or soft cloth with a mild dish soap in warm water.
Peridot Jewelry in Boca Raton
Visit our jewelry store in Boca Raton, Florida to take a look at our selection of peridot jewelry.