The August birthstone is sometimes referred to as the extreme gem due to the fact that peridot is found in volcanic rock and meteorites. The word peridot comes from the Arabic faridat which means gem.
The Green Goddess
Did you know that peridot was known by the ancient Egyptians as the gem of the sun? This is probably due to the gem’s yellowish green to greenish yellow color. For over 3,500 years, peridot was mined on the Red Sea island of Zabargad (now St. John’s Island) in southern Egypt. This locality is a historic source for fine peridot, and produced the exquisite peridot we feature here.
The Green Goddess is a gemstone that would make anyone green with envy, and set in a pendant, this peridot certainly has the charm and splendor to captivate.
The Green Goddess peridot is a pear-shaped peridot weighing 154 carats. It was purchased as a part of The Field Museum’s founding gem collection at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. It is from St. John’s Island (Zabargad) in Egypt, one of the classic peridot mines.
What’s in a Name?
In 2008, jewelry designer Lester Lampert was chosen to set the Green Goddess peridot into an 18K yellow gold pendant. A goddess is carved into the gold behind the peridot and is visible through the gem. Lampert surrounded the peridot with a total of 3.24 carats of yellow diamonds that complement the green color of the peridot.
The Green Goddess peridot pendant is in the Grainger Hall of Gems at The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois.
What qualities make a peridot desirable? Like many other gems, size, clarity, and color each play a part. In general, large peridots of 20 carats or more are considered rare, and so are likely to be more valuable. Smaller stones are cut to standard shapes and are readily available and affordable. For clarity, ideally, you want a peridot that has no eye-visible inclusions, with perhaps a few minute chromite mineral crystals which are visible under magnification.
But color is also an important variable, as it is for most colored gemstones. The color of a fine peridot should be a saturated green to slightly yellowish green that’s free from brown tints that is best displayed in larger gems. Smaller stones sometimes show yellow-green to greenish yellow hues and brown undertones. There are no known treatments for peridot.
Today, gem-quality peridot is found in localities other than the Egyptian island of St. John’s Island: Norway, Pakistan, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Myanmar, China, and the United States. In the U.S., Arizona is an important source, and it’s also found on the big island of Hawaii.