The Passion of
The Egyptians called peridot the “gem of the sun.”
Peridot has always been associated with light. Some
believed that it protected its owner from “terrors of the
night,” especially when it was set in gold. Others strung
the gems on donkey hair and tied them around their left
arms to ward off evil spirits. The word peridot comes
from the Arabic “faridat,” which means “gem.” Most
peridot formed deep inside the earth and was delivered
to the surface by volcanoes. Some also came to Earth in
meteorites, but this extraterrestrial peridot is extremely
rare, and not likely to be seen in a retail jewelry store.
Peridot’s color ranges from yellowish green to
greenish yellow. The most favored peridot color is
a richly saturated pure grass green without any hint
of yellow or brown, which is usually only achieved in
gems of 10 ct or larger. Smaller examples tend to
show yellowish green hues. Brown undertones lower
the value of peridot.
The best-quality peridot has no eye-visible inclusions,
with perhaps a few tiny black spots—minute mineral
crystals—visible under magnification. Other inclusions
common in peridot are reflective, disk-shaped
inclusions called “lily pads.”
Peridot is found as irregular nodules (rounded rocks
with peridot crystals inside) in some lava flows in the
United States, China and Vietnam and, very rarely, as
large crystals lining veins or pockets in certain types of
solidified molten rock. Sources for the latter include
Finland, Pakistan, Myanmar and the island of Zabargad.
Peridot is rarely treated, but might have fractures that
can be filled to improve the apparent clarity.