Peridot is the name variety of the mineral olivine. It is believed that the name derives from the Arabic word faridat, meaning gem. Peridot has been mined for over 3,500 years on the former John’s Island in the Red Sea, now called Zabargad Island and is located in Egypt.
The Greek name chrysolite, meaning gold stone was formerly applied not only to peridot but also to many similarly colored stones. Peridot is found in volcanic areas commonly in basalts. It rates 6.5 on the Mohs scale, just below the recommended 7 for use in jewelry. Therefore it is liable to scratching or other damage if mounted high in a ring.
Peridot gets its strong green color from its high content of iron, which is an integral part in peridot’s chemical formula and makes up at least ten percent of its mass. While beryls, corundums, and diamonds can be of all different colors, peridots are only ever green.
Peridot was brought to Central Europe by the crusaders in the middle Ages, and was often used for ecclesiastical purposes. It was the most popular stone during the Baroque period.
Good peridot crystals are also found in Burma, China, Zambia, and Pakistan. It is estimated that ninety percent of all known peridots are found in San Carlos, Arizona, a Native American (Apache) reservation.
In the past Peridot was also called “the evening emerald.” It sometimes falls to earth from outer space. One of the most beautiful meteorites is the type called “pallasite” which is made of peridot crystals held together in what was once dough of nickel and iron. In 2003, it became the first gemstone to be discovered on another planet, (the planet Mars).
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