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Gem Bits - Peridot


A couple of thousands years BCE, on a full moon night down at the
red sea, sailors landed on a small Island of the Serpents. Under the
bright moonlight they saw glowing crystals in the volcanic earth. At
first light those crystals turn green glitters in the sand. This is
how humanity discovered Zabargad.

The Egyptian royalty in the capital city of Thebes fell quickly for
the mysterious gem. In Naturalis Historia, Pliny tells of the first
specimen presented to queen Berenice. (Theban queen of Lower Egypt,
about 300 BCE.). She was not the only one. Historians even suspect
that at least some of the “emeralds” worn by Cleopatra were actually
Peridot. According to Agatharchides in his De Mare Erthraeo,
Egyptian kings ordered the discoverers to collect gems and deliver
them to the royal gem cutters for polishing. Apart from fashion,
Peridot was considered a symbol of the sun. Soon enough the ancient
Jews picked on this trend as well, named it =93Pitdah=94 and used it i=
the fabled Breastplates of Aaron described in the Bible (Exodus 28,
15-30). The breastplate was a ceremonial religious garment set with
twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel and
corresponded with the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve
months of the year. Aaron, Berenice and Cleopatra are all but gone,
but The largest cut peridot ,weighs 310 carats is on display in the
Smithsonian, was found on Serpent Isle, later known as St. John

During the Ottoman Empire (1300-1918) Turkish sultans amassed the
world=92s largest collection. They were competing with the Crusaders,
returning home from their holy journeys with large Peridots as part
of the loot. Fine gems from this era remain today in a number of
european sanctuaries including the Treasury of the Three Magi in
Cologne and the Vatican. The precious stones and jewelry collection
in the Tower of London also contains large Peridot gems.

The source of the name Peridot is not very clear. It could be
derived from the Greek “peridona”, meaning “giving plenty”, or from
the Arabic word Faridat, although the current name in Arabic is
Zabargad. To add up to confusion the old Farsi name Zamroot means
emerald which is Izmargad in ancient Hebrew. Later the stone was
known as Topazion. Probably around the 18th century, the French were
the first to call this yellowish-green stone Peridote, although the
English have similar claim, It was probably, regarding their history,
more of French name.

Peridot belongs to the forsterite-fayalite (most of the gem variety
is predominantly foresterite, named after the German naturalist,
Johnn Forester.) mineral series which is part of the Olivine group.
It is one of the “idiochromatic” gems, meaning its color comes from
the basic chemical composition of the mineral itself, not from minor
impurities, and therefore will only be found in shades of green. Its
chemical formula is given by: (Mg,Fe)2SiO4.

Peridot is found in many corners of the world and beyond, that is
from meteorites. In Russia, there are some cut Peridots that came
out of a meteorite which fell in 1749 in east Siberia. The most
unusual olive green gem that comes from meteorites called
Pallasites. Moldavite is found in the Czech Republic and believed to
have arrived from space in a meteor about 14.8 million years ago.
Because this stone contains crystals of Olivine and has a similar
color it is often confused with Peridot. Some of these
extraterrestrial gems are very beautiful though and have been
faceted and set into jewelry.

Because Peridot is the created during volcanic action, occasionally,
those green crystals are found on the black sands of Hawaii. The
United States was for many years the largest producer of this green
material, and the value of production in 1993 was estimated to be
about $1.5 million. Peridot Mesa, located on the San Carlos Apache
Indian Reservation east of Globe in Gila County, is the most
productive locality for Peridot in the world. Gem-quality Peridot
can be found in deposits at three different locations in New Mexico.
The deposits are in the Buell Park area in McKinley County in the
northwestern part of the state and in Kilbourne Hole and Potrillo
Mar depression.

Very large, super fine-quality Peridot is produced from deposits in
Mogok area in Burma. These deposits were well known for their 20- to
40-carat cut stones of superb color and clarity, but since the
"socialist" government came to power, supply dwindled and Burmese
Peridot became all but rare collectors=92 item.

In the early 1990s, the rough mountainsides of Nanga Parbat,
stretching far west of the Himalayas, start producing fine crystals
in a deep and breathtakingly beautiful green. Unique stones of over
100 carats were found. Soon enough these stones have been termed

Since the late 90=92s and early 2000, the bread and butter Peridot is
being mined, cut and sold out of China. Although on the yellowish
side and mostly in the 1 to 3 carats size range, with china=92s
untapped labor reserves and aggressive business tactics, Chinese
Peridot has an excellent price point. It is clearly taking over the
commercial slice in the global Peridot pie.

The ancient Romans were quite fond of the gemstone and coveted the
brilliant green sparkle, which does not change either in artificial
light. They already named the stone “Evening Emerald”. Today, the
airy, slightly golden bright green of Peridot could not escape the
attention of contemporary designers in the jewelry and fashion
industries. Its fine pistachio green or olive green goes perfectly
with many summer collections. No wonder that Peridot is assigned to
the summer month of August.

If you are still in doubt you should consider the reputation Peridot
has at the New Age circles: Peridot protects against nervousness;
helps alleviate spiritual fear; aids in healing hurt feelings &
bruised egos; incurs strength & physical vitality; aligns subtle
bodies; amplifies other vibrational energies & positive emotional
outlook; helps liver & adrenal function. If you are married do not
forget that Peridot is the anniversary gemstone for the 16th year of
marriage. And above all it is supposed to bring the wearer success,
peace, good luck, and most importantly, helps dreams become a

Hemi Englisher
The Source for Natural Spinels


A marvelous and well-written article.

While the world=92s largest ‘cut’ peridot of 310 carats resides at the
Smithsonian, the worlds largest uncut peridot of 329 carats was
discovered and still remains in Myanmar, or Burma as us diehards
still call it. One can only wonder what size it will be if
eventually cut. Check out:


Burmese peridot is not as rare as one might think. See: as an example.

I may be wrong, but why do the prices on this page seem so low?

Randolph Post



Thank you for the correction. I will try and look into this large
Burma Peridot on my next trip. They may have it in their Gem Museum.
Anyway if it is still in rough, it would be a wild speculation what
can be cut out of it. When I refer to rare stones I was talking about
cut stones of 20 to 40 caraters. Not crystals of under 10 carats.
Sorry for not being specific.

Regarding this this big jade in Phakam is not chunk of royal green
either. I was lucky to visit Phakam and saw that rock - still in the
ground, and could see the lower tip of it. Again, it is still part of
a mountain so who knows how big it is. Honestly I want to be there
when they put on a balance- a machine that can weight few thousand
tons. Basically, it is propaganda piece for the Pha U, the minority
who runs the place as well some mines Mohng Shue. (The Red Ruby
Dragon group)

Thank again you for you note,
Hemi Englisher
The Source for Natural Spinels


I’m not sure why the prices are low on the page you asked about
(except the fact that the business is in Thailand), but the link
above has a significant conch pearl advertised at auction at the
bottom of the page. Current high bid is $2.7 Million. Wow.

James in SoFl