Peridot, pronounced PAIR-A-DOE, probably takes its name from the Arabic word faritat
which translates as gem. An isochromatic gem, peridot can only be green unlike many other
gems such as sapphire and quartz. The iron that gives peridot its rich color is an
essential part of the gems composition, whereas many other gems receive their color from
various impurities introduced into their crystal structure.
The most desirable peridots are those with the purest green color. Peridot can range in tones
from deep emerald green, to pale green, to olive green with shades of brown and yellow. While
yellow and brown overtones can decrease the price of a peridot, many such gems still possess an
outstanding brilliance and luster.
Most of the world's peridot comes from Arizona in the
United States. However, there are fewer peridot mines producing gem grade stones than there
are diamond mines. Recent discoveries of Peridot deposits in the Kashmir part of Pakistan,
and near Afghanistan surprised the world with the finest quality Peridot in sizes over
300 carats! Now the term Kashmir-Peridot is used to refer to any excellent peridot.
Peridot is one of the first mined gemstones. The oldest source for gem quality peridot were
the mines on the island of Zabargad (St. John's Island), in the Red Sea about 50 miles off the egyptian coast.
Zabargad means olovine in Arabic. The mines are now all but depleted, but the beaches
of the island still have a green hue from all the tiny Peridot crystals in the sands.
Peridot was used by ancient egyptians in bead jewelry. Cleopatra prized her large collection of peridot gems.
The origin of the tradition of birthstones is sometimes attributed to the Breastplate of Aaron, the high priest of Hebrews.
The breastplate of the high priest was a ceremonial garment set with 12 gemstones, each stone representing one of the
twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve gems corresponded to the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac.
Peridot is the modern birthstone for August.
Peridot has a Mohs scale hardness rating of 6.5 - 7.