Peridot is the name for gem-quality examples of the mineral olivine. It is one of just a few gem minerals we see in jewellery that forms deep in the earth’s mantle, rather than in the crust. It is generally green in colour, but can also have a green-yellow aspect.
The ancient Egyptians called peridot the gem of the sun. They mined peridot on the Red Sea island of Zabargad, the source for many fine quality examples of this gemstone. It is said that Egyptian priests would grind peridot and use it to make a drink for their ceremonies and there is a strong belief that Cleopatra wore jewellery made with this stunning green gemstone.
Peridot is one of the birthstones for August.
The vast majority of peridot comes from the United States, with the main deposits located in Arizona. Other countries producing peridot include China, Mexico, Norway, Brazil and Pakistan.
Peridot has a Mohs hardness rating of between 6.5 to 7 which means it is suitable for many types of jewellery.
This fascinating gem material has also been found in meteorites from outer space and, in 2006, some peridot was found in comet dust brought back by the Stardust robotic space probe.
Throughout history, people have believed that peridot bestowed protection and calm on the wearer, easing anger and emotional distress by countering negative thoughts. Others have thought it promotes sound sleep and general well-being.