The Incredible Story behind the Biggest Discovery of Peridot

From the desk of our Gemologist

August’s birthstone is the peridot. The unique yellow-green color is unlike any other. The word peridot comes from the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” Perhaps that’s why peridot is associated with prosperity and good fortune. It is one of the oldest known gemstones, with records dating back as early as 1500 B.C.

Peridots have an interesting story. They are often found in lava and sometimes in meteorites. In 2005, the robotic space probe “Stardust” brought back some very interesting things from space. One of the things brought back were peridots! The extraterrestrial peridots are unlikely to be found in jewelry stores. Very few of them were large enough to be faceted and used in jewelry.

The ancient Egyptians found abundant peridot mines on an island in the Red Sea.  No one was ever brave enough to mine on the island because it was infested by snakes until Pharaoh had the snakes driven off the island. Then miners were able to access the beautiful gemstones. Pharaoh sent thousands of slaves over to mine the peridots. The miners worked at night due to the extreme heat during the day. They told Pharaoh the shine of the green is better seen in the moonlight rather than the sunlight. This gave the peridot the nickname “evening emerald”.

This gem is easily confused with other gems. Some believe that most of the world’s famous emeralds have turned out to be peridots. Peridots were believed to drive away evil spirits if strung on donkey hair and worn on the left hand! Others believed if a peridot was set in gold, it would cure night terrors. Most people fell in love with the unique, vibrant color. In fact, the peridot has been called the ‘gem of the sun’ because of its brilliance.

Another unique characteristic about this gemstone is its double-refracted stone. When viewed under intense magnification, two reflections of each facet can be seen!

Peridots rank 6.5-7 on the MOHS scale. As with any piece of jewelry, bring it into a jeweler every 6-12 months to ensure it lasts a lifetime!

Pictures via gem encyclopedia