The ancient Egyptians mined peridot on the Red Sea island of Zabargad, the source for many large fine peridots in the world’s museums. The Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun.” Today this gem is still prized for its restful yellowish green hues and long history. Large strongly-colored, examples can be spectacular, and attractive smaller gems are available for jewelry at all price points.
WHY WE LOVE THIS GEMSTONE:
Peridot crystals are found in meteorites: some rare extraterrestrial crystals are even big enough to facet as cut gemstones.
Most gems are colored by impurities such as iron. Peridot's color is intrinsically yellow-green. Higher-quality stones have an intense color.
Peridot has extremely high double refraction: when you look closely through the gem, you can see two of each pavilion facet.
FACTS ABOUT PERIDOT:
Some peridot is ancient: it's found in pallasite meteorites, remnants of our solar system's birth.
In 2005, peridot was found in comet dust brought back from the Stardust robotic space probe.
Gem variety of the mineral olivine: found in peridotite rock from the earth’s upper mantle.
Peridot is readily available for many types of jewelry. It can be very affordable and attractive, even in normal commercial qualities. Peridot can also come in large sizes and very intense colors to satisfy the most discriminating colored gemstone connoisseur.
Peridot’s color ranges from pure green to yellowish green to greenish yellow. The finest hue is green without any hint of yellow or brown. The gem’s colors tend to be at their finest in stones weighing 10 carats and above. Lower-quality peridot is brownish.
Pure green stones are rare, and most peridots are more yellowish green. The higher-quality stones have an intense color. Most of the stones with the finest color come from Myanmar and Pakistan.
Most of the better-quality, calibrated material and larger single pieces on the market have no eye-visible inclusions, with tiny black spots—actually minute mineral crystals—visible under magnification. Other inclusions common in peridot are reflective, disk-shaped inclusions called “lily pads.”
Readily visible inclusions, especially the dark spots, lower the value of peridot. There’s a dramatic drop in value for light-colored material with prominent dark inclusions.
Peridot is cut in a wide variety of shapes and cutting styles. Production includes all the standard gem shapes such as round, oval, pear, cushion, triangle, and marquise shapes.
Cutting styles are also well represented. Brilliant cuts with triangular and kite-shaped facets, step cuts with concentric rows of parallel facets, and mixed cuts usually consisting of brilliant-cut crowns and step-cut pavilions are all common. Designer cuts fashioned by hand and machine are popular, as well as cabochons, beads, and carvings.
Standard peridot cuts for the jewelry industry include a wide range of shapes and sizes. The gem is inexpensive in smaller sizes, but prices rise for gems above 10×8 mm. The finest large peridots come from Myanmar— formerly Burma—and, more recently, from a source high in the Himalayas of Pakistan. More-standard sizes and qualities come mostly from the United States (Arizona) and China.