Beauty from the Depths of the Earth
Peridot belongs to the Chrysolite or Olivine gem variety. Unlike almost all other gems, it is not formed in the earth’s crust. It comes from the magma layer in the upper mantle, 20 to 55 miles deep, and is brought to the surface by volcanic or tectonic activity. The only stone formed deeper in the earth than peridot is the diamond. Specks of peridot have also been found in the remains of pallasite meteorites but these are extremely rare!
It is one of the oldest known gemstones, mined in ancient times on St. John’s island in the Egyptian Red Sea. It is believed to be one of the stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel in Aaron’s breastplate. The ancient Egyptians called it “the gem of the sun.” They believed that peridot was a very spiritual gem and, apart from wearing the stone, would drink a brew of crushed peridot during ceremonial rituals to bring themselves closer to nature. Cleopatra was especially fond of green stones and it is now speculated that some of her many famous emeralds may have actually been peridot!
Magical powers have been attributed to peridot. It was thought that drinking vessels made of peridot made the medicines drunk from them more effective. In the middle ages, it was believed that respiratory issues could be cured, and heart problems helped, by dosing with powdered peridot, while peridot under the tongue would help reduce fevers. Peridot is also supposed to balance the nervous system and promote confidence.
In Hawaiian folklore, as peridot is brought to the surface by volcanoes, it is said to symbolize the tears of Pele, the all-powerful, fire and volcano goddess. Pele, while destructive, was also considered generous and peridot was a gift to her people. The sand of the Papakolea Beach in Hawaii is green! It is made up of olivine (peridot) worn down to grains by the ocean.
Today, most of the peridot comes from Arizona with rarer stones coming from Myanmar, China, and Pakistan. The most popular color is the bright, pure lime-green but peridot can range from yellow-green, through olive, to greenish-brown. Peridot is one stone that is never treated to enhance its color so you can be sure that your peridot is exactly as nature made it!
Peridot also has a romantic aspect. Once thought to hold off anxiety, it is also said to attract lovers and bring happiness, peace, and success to those who wear it! Peridot is used to celebrate a 16th Wedding Anniversary.