Peridot is the gem name of the mineral Olivine. This mineral is a magnesium iron silicate. Olivine derives its name from its yellowish-green hue. It can also go by the name of Chrysolite. This mineral ranges in color from yellowish-green to greenish yellow. For a fine gemstone connoisseur, a bright green hue with no yellow is a highly prized choice. Large, green colored varieties are very rare. As a result, the price for this variety is higher than smaller, greenish yellow or yellow greenish material.
On earth, there are many places in which this mineral is present. However, fine gem quality material is only found in a few places. Peridot forms deep within the Earth and volcanic activity brings it to the surface from these depths. Some of the finest gem quality material comes from Zabargad Island located in the Red Sea. Ancient Egyptians were known to mine peridot. It was known to them as the “gemstone of the sun.” Peridot was the choice of many Pharaohs because of its bright color. Many of Cleopatra’s “Emerald” collection was thought to actually be Peridot. In North America, Arizona and New Mexico are known to be a prime spots for this beautiful gemstone.
Olivine has also been found in many meteorite specimens suggesting that it is very common outside of Earth. Many meteorites that are found contain pallasites, which are a mixture of iron-nickle and olivine. Other places in the solar system have been known to have traces of this mineral including our own moon and even the planet Mars! Outside of our solar system, trace elements of this mineral have been seen in comet trails and in the dust surrounding young stars.
Today, peridot is popular for its rich yellowish green hue. For this reason, it is perfect for use in jewelry. Peridot, along with Spinel, are the birthstones of August. High quality material features little to no clarity flaws. Under high magnification, tiny clarity characteristics can be seen. These characteristics are usually smaller crystal structures within the gem. This gem is often cut to many of the common shapes. These can include, round, square, maquise, pear and oval cuts. The cutting styles can be a standard brilliant cut or step cut. Many times a combination of two cutting styles can showcase the hue of this material. Cabachon cuts, which feature polishing and not faceting, are often used as well.