||The peridot is
an invigorating gemstone and it is also the August birthstone. It is a
uniquely bright and clear green color, making this gemstone a symbol of
vitality. Peridots also signify strength and the promise of new growth in
years ahead; many people wear the stone because it is believed to bring
the wearer success, peace, and good fortune, others, simply because they
enjoy it or it is their birthstone.
The peridot has caught the attention of humans for thousands of years and
the name comes from the Arabic word “faridat,” meaning “gem.”
Peridots are one of few gemstones that only occur in only one color, an
olive green, with only small variations ranging from yellow-green to
brownish-green. The intensity and tint of the green depends on how much
iron is contained in the crystal structure.
The earliest production
of peridot is said to have occurred between 70 AD and 1500 BC on the St.
Johns Island in the Red Sea, about 54 kilometers off the coast of Egypt.
During these times this prized
green gemstone was thought to protect against evil. It was also ground to a
powder and used as a remedy for asthma and as a cure for thirst brought on by
fever. The Egyptians called the peridot the “gem of the sun” because of
dazzling brilliance they produce when observed under the desert sun. Early
Egyptian priests drank a stimulating beverage called Soma from cups made of
peridot, believing this practice to draw them closer to Isis, the goddess of
nature. Some historians suspect that at least some of the “emeralds” worn by
Cleopatra were actually peridot.
|Most of the
world’s peridot was formed deep inside the earth and brought to the
surface by volcanoes. Interestingly, it is the only gemstone found in
meteorites. Peridots from meteorites are extremely
rare and not likely to be found in retail stores.
The best quality peridot has historically come from either Myanmar or
Egypt. However, new sources in Pakistan are challenging that claim with
some exceptional specimens. The Arizona gem material is of lesser quality,
but is far more abundant and therefore more affordable. Arizona’s San
Carlos Indian Reservation is the world’s most commercially important
producer of Peridots. On the San Carlos Reservation, only Native Americans
living on the reservation are permitted to mine the gemstone. Because of
the plentiful occurrence on this reservation the United States is the
largest producer of Peridots in the world. This one reservation accounts
for 80-90 percent of the world’s production of peridot.
The largest cut peridot is a
310 carat (62 g) specimen in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
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