Peridot – Your Complete Guide
History and Formation
Peridot has a particularly remarkable history, with its first recorded use dating back to antiquity. The gemstone was well held in high regard throughout Egypt, with some holding the belief that Cleopatra’s legendary emerald jewels were actually green peridot. In terms of its geological evolution, peridot is unlike most other gemstones. Whereas most gems develop within the Earth’s outer crust, peridot crystals are established much further down, in a region known as the mantle. The crystals themselves are produced within hot magma and are pushed to the outer layers of the Earth during volcanic movement.
Facts about Peridot
- Colours range from pale yellow to brown
- 6.5 – 7 on Mohs hardness scale (making it suitable for everyday wear, such as engagement rings, however special care must be taken)
- Birthstone of August
- Name is derived from the Middle English word peritot
- An iron content of twelve to fifteen percent is considered the optimal amount for yielding the ideal green peridot colour
Artificial peridot has been in production for a number of years now, through the use of various melt processes. A special type of Chromium-infused artificial peridot has uses that extend beyond jewellery, with it commonly being used for laser experimentation purposes. This category of synthetic is easily identifiable from naturally occurring peridot, possessing a number of characteristics that are very different to what is normally expected.
While artificial peridot has virtually no commercial value, many can still be found at marketplaces. Although green specimens of peridot bear somewhat of a resemblance to emerald, there are a number of qualities there a number of distinguishing structural qualities.
Peridot typically isn’t treated to improve its appearance, but some jewellery cuts may be improved through the placement of a metal foil at the back of the gem. Here, the metal foil reflects light back through the stone and into the gaze of the observer, helping to create the illusion of a more spectacular glimmer.
Where is peridot mined?
Egypt – a small island off the coast of Egypt known as Zabargad, has been a rich source of peridot for many thousands of years. The first known location to possess peridot, the island is frequently blanketed in mist and often proved challenging for explorers in early times to find. So challenging in fact, that it wasn’t until the early 1900s that it was relocated again. Peridot found within the island, has an unmistakably vibrant green hue.
Myanmar - currently the only place on Earth where large specimens of peridot are found. There’s an abundance of the gem in this area and each possess a strikingly beautiful, dark green hue, with sizes measuring in the hundreds of carats.
United States – here, peridot is found in granular form, with small particles having separated from larger stones, long ago. It also mined in other areas, which typically generate stones sizes of several carats or less.
Norway – gemstones of lighter colour than what is normally found in other areas around the world are found in Norway, owing to the reduced iron content. Specimens are typically small and are exceedingly rare in larger sizes, similar to what is extracted in the US.
Beyond this, other less significant sources of peridot can be all over the world, including Mexico, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Antarctica, Australia, Brazil, China, Russia and more.
How to look after peridot jewellery
Although peridot has a hardness rating of between 6.5 and 7, it’s still vulnerable to scratches created by ordinary dust and can also be damaged by rapid heat change. Although it can be used for every day jewellery, be mindful that even ordinary sweat over a prolonged period, can compromise its structural integrity. When cleaning peridot jewellery, avoid using steam or ultrasonic cleaners and instead opt for tepid, soapy water and a suitably delicate brush.
If you need additional advice on looking after your peridot jewellery, consult your local jeweller.
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