Peridot is a unique green colored gemstone from the Olivine mineral family. It can range from a quite yellow-green to olive green to brownish green. The rich slightly olive green is the most desired.
Peridot is one of the few idiochromatic gemstones of the world, meaning that its color comes directly from its mineral chemical makeup and in turn it has only one color. Whereas many other gemstones’ colors come from the trace elements present along with the mineral composition and can be various colors depending on which trace elements are present. Peridot’s chemistry is made up of Silicon (Si) and Oxygen (O) along with Magnesium (Mg) and Iron (Fe). The richness of green depends on the amount of Iron content.
Peridot is fairly soft in gemstone terms, but harder than most metals. It is only 6.5-7 on mohs scale which puts it below most of the other common precious and semi-precious gemstones. It can scratch, crack or break if it is abused. Peridot is not resistant to acids like many other gemstones and will react unfavorably in a rhodium bath if not protected properly. Peridot is generally quite transparent but inclusions can create a soft or milky appearance.
The majority of the world’s Peridot gemstone supply comes from an Apache Native American reservation in Arizona, but it can be found on most of Earth’s continents in smaller quantities. Peridot is mostly found in smaller sizes, less than 5 carats, but any gem quality Peridot larger than 2 carats will exponentially increase in price the larger the size. The largest cut Peridot is in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and weighs about 300 carats.
The only readily available Peridot simulants are colored Cubic Zirconia and colored glass or crystal, but occasionally corundum (Sapphire, Ruby) or Spinel are synthesized as Peridot simulants. Peridot itself is not generally synthesized as it is not expensive enough to be of much benefit. There are also no known treatments used for enhancing Peridot. Peridot is a special gemstone like Rubellite, where its color does not change hue dependent on the color temperature of the light source.
Peridot is commercially and traditionally known as the birthstone of August. Peridot is associated with love, truth, faithfulness and loyalty. It can also be associated by its green color with Mother Nature, life, growth and renewal.
Peridot is mentioned in many ancient references as “chrysolite”. It is mentioned throughout the Bible, and early Christians considered it sacred. Today still, Catholic Bishops traditionally wear a ring of peridot and amethyst as a symbol of purity and morality.