Summer is almost gone here in the Lowcountry, so we wanted to make sure we celebrated one of the summer’s last birthstones, the stunning and mysterious peridot!
Hello Summerville! Welcome back to another special edition of the Hanebrink blog. We are ready to rock your world and dig into some awesome and gorgeous facts about our favorite things – everything gemology! In one of our recent blogs, we talked about how the popularity of birthstones brought the gem culture into focus in the United States. We wanted to dig a little deeper into this idea and talk a little bit more about one of August’s birthstones, peridot. Spinel and sardonyx are also birthstones for August, according to GIA. This stunning yellowish-green or greenish-yellow gem is made under extreme pressure and conditions and is found living within the earth’s mantle. It can also be found in meteorites that have landed on earth from outer space, making this particular gem truly out of this world.
Peridot comes from the olivine family of minerals. According to GIA, this stunning stone, often confused for an emerald, has been a popular gem since the second century BCE. It was adorned by the ancient Egyptians and Romans. The incredible emerald collection that Cleopatra was known to have, is rumored to be mostly peridot. It was used in the building of many stunning shrines and churches throughout Europe and has also been used in protective talismans, according to GIA. It is also customary to give the gift of peridot for a 16th wedding anniversary.
[In the VERY beginning]
The history and story of peridot is extraordinary. Some of its original locations of where it was first discovered and mined are now exhausted of the stone, but specimens can still be found throughout the world and are on display in some of the most prestigious museums in the world. The US gets most of its peridot imported from Vietnam, Pakistan, Myanmar, China, along with a shortlist of other locations. It can even be found in the United States. According to GIA, the oldest recorded source of peridot was found within the Egyptian Island of Zabargad, which was once called Tapazios. It was an incredibly dangerous place to work and mine, but the gem was worth the risk to the Egyptians. It was such a coveted and loved gem, that most peridot from this island, that still exists today, lives in museums. The Smithsonian and the Royal Ontario Museum house some of the largest specimens and most stunning examples of peridot in the world. The ancient Egyptians loved the gem so much that they kept the location of the stone and their mines a secret. The location was lost to history when the ancient culture fell and wasn’t discovered again until 1906, according to the American Gem Trade Association.
Where in the United States is this incredible stone found? Well, it lays far out west in Arizona, thanks to a volcanic eruption that spread lava across the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. The mines for the peridot that exist there have been worked by Apache families for generations, according to GIA. It can also be found in Hawaii and can be seen in the actual sand of Peridot Beach. Tiny pieces of the gem are mixed in with the sand, making the beaches shine a beautiful green. According to AGTA, these pieces of peridot symbolize the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire.
According to AGTA, because the stone is very plentiful, it can be and is made into jewelry of all types and sizes. The peridot found in Arizona is liked because of its unique shape and color. It looks stunning when set against gold and sterling silver, enhancing its lush colors. The stone itself has a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs Scale, making it softer than most gems. It should be worn with care and treated delicately. The process of cleaning it, as important as that is, can be a long process, according to GIA. A soft bristle brush paired with warm water and soap is the best way to clean it. Any pieces made with peridot should always be stored with care to avoid any damage.
We mentioned that peridot can be found in meteorites. They can be found in pallasite meteorites, which are made up of nickel-iron and olivine. Olivine, according to the University of Minnesota, is not just a single mineral. It is made up of multiple components, making it a mineral series. Even though thousands of meteorites have hit earth over time, only a few have actually had peridot inside them that have been gem quality. Many of them have had olivine in them, but this particular olivine is just not up to gem quality, according to GIA.
Have you seen this stunning gem in person before? Did you know about its extensive and very interesting history? We love to dig deeper into history to excavate the truth behind all of our favorite gems, and hope you enjoy it too. If you’d like to learn more and see some more of our favorite stones and specimens, please stop by. Thank you, Summerville. Remember to keep calm, and rock on!
Joke of the day:
What Queen song is a diamond’s favorite?