Peridot is a gem variety of olivine, also known as chrysolite. Highly valued by the ancients, Peridots once were considered more valuable than diamonds. They were the only gems set in transparent form by te Romans, who wore them for protection from enchantment, melancholy and illusion.
During the Middle Ages, Peridot was worn as a means of gaining foresight and divine inspiration. It was also thought to give eloquence in speech.
Peridot is treasured in Hawaii as the goddess Pele's tears. The island of Oahu even has beaches made out of tiny grains of peridot. Although Hawaii’s volcanoes have produced some peridot large enough to be cut into gemstones, virtually all peridot sold in Hawaii today is from Arizona, another state with extreme geology.
The fresh lime green of peridot is its distinctive signature. Its spring green color also is ideal with sky blue.
Today most peridot is mined, often by hand, by Native Americans on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Peridot found here is beautiful in color but relatively small in size. Faceted peridot from Arizona is rare in sizes above five carats. Fine large peridot are found in Burma and large quantities of peridot are also mined in China. In 1994, an exciting new deposit of fine peridot was discovered in Pakistan, 15,000 feet above sea level in the far west of the Himalaya Mountains in the Pakistanian part of Kashmir.
Peridot, the birthstone for August, is harder than metal but softer than many gemstones. Store peridot jewelry with care to avoid scratches and protect from blows. Because peridot is sensitive to rapid changes in temperature, never have it steam cleaned and avoid ultrasonics. Clean with mild dish soap: use a toothbrush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect.