The Story of Peridot….

by on January 19, 2012

A couple of thousands years BCE, on a full moon night down at the red sea, sailors landed on a small Island of the Serpents. Under the bright moonlight they saw glowing crystals among the volcanic earth. At first light those crystals turn green glitters in the sand.

This is how humanity discovered Zabargad.

The Egyptian royalty in the capital city of Thebes fell quickly for the mysterious gem. In Naturalis Historia, Pliny tells of the first specimen presented to queen Berenice. (Theban queen of Lower Egypt, about 300 BCE.). She was not the only one. Historians even suspect that at least some of the “emeralds” worn by Cleopatra were actually Peridots. According to Agatharchides in his De Mare Erthraeo, Egyptian kings ordered the discoverers to collect gems and deliver them to the royal gem cutters for polishing. Apart from fashion, Peridot was considered a symbol of the sun. Soon enough the ancient Jews picked on this trend as well, named it “Pitdah” and used it in the fabled Breastplates of Aaron described in the Bible (Exodus 28, 15-30). The breastplate was a ceremonial religious garment set with twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel and corresponded with the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve months of the year. Aaron, Berenice and  Cleopatra are all but gone, but The largest cut Peridot, weighs 310 carats is still on display in the Smithsonian, was found on  Serpent Isle, later known as St. John Island.

During the Ottoman Empire (1300-1918) Turkish sultans amassed the world’s largest collection. They were competing with the Crusaders, returning home from their holy journeys with large Peridots as part of the loot. Fine gems from this era remain today in a number of European sanctuaries including the Treasury of the Three Magi in Cologne and the Vatican. The precious stones and jewelry collection in the Tower of London also contains large Peridot gems.

The source of the name Peridot is not very clear. It could be derived from the Greek “peridona”, meaning “giving plenty”, or from the Arabic word Faridat, although the current name in Arabic is Zabargad. To add up to confusion, the old Farsi name Zamroot means emerald which is Izmargad in ancient Hebrew. Later the stone was known as Topazion. Probably around the 18th century, the French were the first to call the yellowish-green stone Peridote, although the English have similar claim,
It was probably, regarding their history, more of a French name.

Peridot belongs to the forsterite-fayalite (most of the gem variety is predominantly foresterite, named after the German naturalist, John Forester.) mineral series which is part of the Olivine group. It is one of the “idiochromatic” gems, meaning the color created by the basic chemical composition of the mineral itself, not from minor impurities, and therefore will only be found in shades of green.
Its chemical formula is given by: (Mg,Fe)2SiO4.

Peridot is found in many corners of the world and beyond, that is from meteorites. In Russia, few cut Peridots were produced out of a meteorite which fell in 1749 in east Siberia. The most unusual olive green gem that comes from meteorites called Pallasites. Moldavite is found in the Czech Republic and believed to have arrived from space in a meteor about 14.8 million years ago. Because this stone contains crystals of Olivine and has a similar color it is often confused with Peridot. Some of these extraterrestrial gems are very beautiful though and have been faceted and set into jewelry.

Because Peridot was created during volcanic action, occasionally, those green crystals are found on the black sands of Hawaii.

The United States was for many years the largest producer of this green material, and the value of production in 1993 was estimated at $1.5 million. Peridot Mesa, located on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation east of Globe in Gila County, is the most productive locality for Peridot in the world. Gem-quality Peridot can be found in deposits at three different locations in New Mexico. The deposits are in the Buell Park area in McKinley County in the northwestern part of the state and in Kilbourne Hole and Potrillo Mar depression.

Very large, super fine-quality Peridot gems are produced from deposits in Mogok area in Burma. These deposits were well known for their 20- to 80-carat cut stones of superb color and clarity, but since the “socialist” government came to power, supply dwindled and Burmese Peridot became all but rare collectors’ item.

In the early 1990s, the rough mountainsides of Nanga Parbat, stretching far west of the Himalayas, start producing fine crystals in a deep and breathtakingly beautiful green. unique stones of over 100 carats were found. Soon enough these stones have been termed “Cashmere Peridot”.

Since the late 90’s and early 2000, the bread and butter Peridot is being mined,  cut and sold out of China. Although on the yellowish side and mostly in the 1 to 3 carats size range, with china’s untapped labor reserves and aggressive business tactics, Chinese Peridot has an excellent price point. It is clearly taking over the commercial slice in the global Peridot pie.

The ancient Romans were quite fond of the gemstone and coveted the brilliant green sparkle, which does not change either in artificial light. They already named the stone “Evening Emerald”. Today, the airy, slightly golden bright green of Peridot could not escape the attention of contemporary designers in the jewelry and fashion industries. Its fine pistachio green or olive green goes perfectly with many summer collections. No wonder that Peridot is assigned to the summer month of August.

If you are still in doubt you should consider the reputation Peridot has at the New Age circles: Peridot protects against nervousness; helps alleviate spiritual fear; aids in healing hurt feelings & bruised egos; incurs strength & physical vitality; aligns subtle bodies; amplifies other vibrational energies & positive emotional outlook; helps liver & adrenal function. If you are married do not forget that Peridot is the anniversary gemstone for the 16th year of marriage. And above all it is supposed to bring the wearer success, peace, good luck, and most importantly, helps his or her dreams to become true.

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