The Jewelry Insider

August 7, 2008

There’s a green secret we’re about to reveal. August’s birthstone, Peridot, used to be called an Evening’s Emerald, find out why this gorgeous green gem is coming out of emerald’s shadows and basking in it’s own sunlight.

Peridot

Emeralds maybe the king of green gemstones but there’s a little known prince that’s waiting in the wings vying for the throne. Watch out emeralds Prince Peridot is chomping at your heels. Most people think of August’s birthstone as a substitute for emeralds but this fresh lime-green gem ain’t no substitute. Peridots and emeralds have a long history for mistaken identity: many famous, ancient stones formerly thought to be precious emeralds were actually peridots upon further investigation. In fact, peridots were once called “Evening Emeralds” in response to their radiance even as the sun faded to dusk.

And their luminosity is not to be dismissed. Throughout history a number of
very well known peridots have been regarded for their beauty. Queen Cleopatra
has been argued to have worn peridots, not emeralds, during her rule in Egypt.
The cathedral in Cologne, Germany has a magnificent stone included in its shrine
to the Three Holy Kings. The Smithsonian Institute has the largest gem on
display: a cut peridot that is 310 carats. When you consider that anything over
8 carats is an exception to the rule, the Smithsonian’s piece is an incredible
find.

Peridot RingThe history of the peridot is a very old one. Deriving from the olivine mineral family, they occur naturally through volcanic eruption. Egyptians first discovered the gem and began mining for it close to four millennia ago on an island named Zerbargad. In an interesting tale, apparently Zerbargad was so overridden with snakes that the Pharaoh ordered them to be run into the ocean, much like St. Patrick, another person we all associate with green! Other early civilizations were also aware of the peridot; the Hawaiians considered the gems to be the tears of the goddess Pele, and even today beaches are strewn with small grains throughout.

Other than being an absolutely gorgeous jewel, peridots were also considered
to be very powerful and important stones for mystical and medicinal purposes. In
addition to fancy necklaces, talismans were also crafted to ward off evil
spirits and bodily harm. Sometimes they were ground up into powder to relieve
asthma, and liquids taken from a cup carved of peridot were more successful in
healing the drinker.

These days, most people will pass on the medicinal purposes and opt for the
bling element instead. If you are in the neighborhood to shop for peridots, here
are some points to think about while looking.

-A deep lime green with good clarity is considered to be the most popular
hue, although a variety of colors exist.

-Prices go up with weight. Available peridots are usually 3 carats or less.
Anything beyond 8 carats is very rare.

-As they are of a lower intensity than emeralds, peridot stones can be quite
soft and should be treated carefully and kept away from any harsh chemicals or
robust activity.

So why not go green this summer with some perfect peridot. Evening emeralds
they maybe, but really peridot is a style perennial.

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