It’s A Space Rock?:An Examination into the August Birthstone the Peridot

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Everything you need to know about Peridot and more

Classification: Semi-Precious Stone
Colour: Green/yellowish green/greenish yellow
Hardness: 6.5-7
Fluorescence: None
Transparency: Transparent – Translucent

 

HISTORY AND LORE

An undermined and undervalued stone, peridot is a unique and unusual jewel in more ways than just one. The idea of a stone that is both green in colour and warm in tone sounds like a massive contradiction, what with green being classified as a cool colour, and yet… it works, and beautifully so. Whether due to its strange colour or its lack of mainstreaming, it is an extension of the earth that is either loved instantly or hated ferociously. But, with a long history of adoration and a completely unexpected connection to space, we just might be able to get a lot more people to love this stone.

Peridots were used by the ancient Egyptians as protective talismans

The bright earthy gem has a surprisingly long history that dates as far back as 1500 B.C. Egypt. Ancient Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun”, thus beginning peridot’s long symbolic association with light. The Egyptians believed that the vibrant yellow-green jewel would protect the wearer from “terrors of the night”, especially when set in gold. Thus, peridots were often used in carved talismans.

The Greeks often mixed Peridot up with topazThe way in which peridots were mined also contributed to its light-based symbolism. In ancient times the jewel was only ever mined from an island in the Red Sea called the isle of St. John, or Zabargad. Oral histories tell us that the peridots were so highly valued that pharaohs would enslave the locals of the island to mine day and night for the gem. They said that mining for peridots was easier at night because the light-bathed stones were easier to see at night. They would mark the spots at night and dig them up during the day.

It wasn’t until the Middle Ages when peridots began to build traction in Europe. Crusaders often brought peridot stones back home after their time fighting in the middle east. The church was happy to use the lime green gem when decorating church plates and robes, especially because peridot was referenced in the text of the apocalypse, revelations.

Peridots became more popular in Europe after the Crusades, because soldiers would bring the stone back home after their time in the middle east.

The definition/categorization of peridots has become of one of the most confusing name mix-ups in all of gemology. This light green jewel has too often been misidentified throughout history. The Egyptians often confused peridots for emeralds. The Greeks called Zabargad island topazios, a title that led to the name topaz, which they used to describe the now famous gems we know today. However, we now know that no topazes were ever actually found on Zabargad island. However, some gems from this island were also called chrysolite, which is Greek for “golden stone”. By the 19th century chrysoberyl, prehnite, and peridot (gems that are all yellow green in colour) were simply categorized as chrysolite. However, you must bear in mind, that gemologists today do not use this term anymore. Confusing, I know. Don’t worry, the only thing you really need to know is that topaz, chrysoberyl, prehnite, and peridot (olivine) are all considered their own distinct gem species. 

COLOUR

Peridot Colour Explained

The colour of peridot gemstones ranges from pure green to yellowish green, to greenish yellow. The most desirable coloration of the stone is a pure green without any hints of yellow or brown. Interestingly enough, peridots that are bigger tend to be greener in colour. Smaller stones tend to have yellow hues and undertones that can lower the stones value.

The saturation of green is affected by the depth at which the gemstone originates from. Peridots found in the Earth’s mantle are called olivines. Peridots found in the upper mantle are called peridotites. Olivines are that of a purer mineral and are darker and richer in colour. Peridotites are composed of olivine and other minerals and are a bit lighter and less saturated in colour. Of course, being found closer to the earth’s surface, peridotites are the more common variant.

ORIGINS

As mentioned before peridots have been mined out of Egypt for a millennia. But the mossy green jewel can also be sourced today from places such as China, Myanmar/Burma, Tanzania, Vietnam, and the United States. Hawaii is known for its luminous green sand beach called peridot beach, where the gemstone can often be found.

Peridot origins - space rock - where peridots come from

Most peridots are brought to the surface of the earth via volcanic eruption. But did you know that peridots are also found outside of earth? That’s right, peridots are also found in space! This is known because on a few occasions’ peridot gemstones have been found in meteorites that have landed on earth. Isn’t that crazy?!

HARDNESS

This semi-precious gemstone sits right in between a 6.5-7 on the mohs scale of hardness. Which makes sense since we’ve seen a peridot or two show up in our store cracked or chipped. This means that the gem, while solid and somewhat durable, can’t take brutal everyday wear and tear and must be worn with the right amount of awareness and care. 

CARE AND MAINTENANCE

Cleaning peridot jewelry jewellery

The hardness is also a great means of determining how to take care of your semi-precious jewel. As mentioned before, you don’t want to wear this stone every day or throw it around carelessly, a good bang or rubbing against harder surfaces will lead to your peridot scratching, cracking, or chipping. You can also wear down the perfectly cut edges of the gem so that it looks worn and old, so be mindful with it.

Luckily cleaning is pretty easy. You can put this gem in either gold or silver liquid cleaner, since it’s non-reactive and not porous. You can also use detergent, warm water, and a soft cloth to really get in there and wash out any built-up dirt and grime from general use. That way every square inch is sparkling.

Now remember, our number one rule for taking care of colour stones is always keep it in a dark place when you’re not wearing it. Over time the colour of your jewels can fade away, due to light exposure. Gems are born from deep inside the cool, dark underbelly of the earth. They need darkness to maintain their beautifully saturated colour. So always make sure to invest in a jewellery box if you’re a collector like us.

CONCLUSION

Whether form the secluded isles of the Red Sea, the deepest depths of the earth, or the never-ending vastness of space I think we can all agree that peridots are a severely underappreciated gemstone that needs to be given a better chance at winning over the hearts of everyone. I mean who wouldn’t want to have a jewel that can also be found in space?! August babies are a lot luckier that they think, by having the peridot as their birthstone.

Everything you need to know about peridots and more

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