Hardness: 6.5 – 7
Birthstone: August
Anniversary: 17th peridot-crystal

The ‘t’ is soft. I have to get that out of the way at this point. Think of ‘doe, a deer, a female deer’ rather than a full stop.

Peridot is a form of the mineral Olivine. It’s green. Very green. Having said that, just how green it is depends on the amount of iron contained in the crystal lattice and so it can vary from a yellowish to brown to a deep lustrous olive green. This is the premium stuff and will cost you rather a lot of money.

In ancient Rome peridot was known as the ’emerald of the evening’ because it seemed to shine more brightly in lamp light and to mimic the hue of the finest emeralds. It was popular, to, in ancient Egypt and, in fact, the majority of the peridot mined in ancient times came from the island of Zagbargad (also known as St John’s Island)just off the coast of Aswan.

The island is composed of igneous rocks, thrust up from within the Earth’s mantle and rich in peridot. The pharaohs used slaves to mine the stones and they reportedly died in their hundreds. Few ever left the island. Systematic mining has continued ever since, generally under more benign direction, and the island was only abandoned as a commercial mining site in the 1920s. Up until recent times, all the major specimens of peridot came from this source although smaller stones have been mined worldwide.

In more recent times a new source of premium rough was discovered on a remote mountain pass in Pakistan, 400M above sea level. Although the climatic conditions are so severe that the stones can only be mined in summer, this new source produced a flood of huge and beautiful stones in the mid 90’s that led to something of a renaissance for peridot. Some of the crystals mined there are the best ever seen and apparently there is enough tucked away there to supply the world market indefinitely.

Like other gems, peridot was believed to offer special powers to the wearer. Marbodei mentioned in De Lapidibus that peridot would dispel the terrors of the night: “If it were to be used as a protection from the wiles of evil spirits, the stone had to be pierced and strung on the hair of an ass and then attached to the left arm.” In the Middle Ages, the belief persisted that peridot would dissolve enchantments and put evil spirits to flight.

I’ve tried it. It doesn’t

I’ve also been reliably informed that “since the Earth largely consists of peridot (in the form of Olivine), holding peridot can help you connect with the vibrations of the Earth. The holder of peridot can connect with the forces of nature more easily.”

I couldn’t possibly comment.

You can click the thumbnails below to see a selection of pieces that are set with peridot.