I have always been passionate about Egyptian Jewellery. The passion and love for symbolism it held would also lead me to write my dissertation on it. One of the many joys of my research included coming across exquisite peridot jewellery. Peridot was often used in talismans and amulets as it was believed to ward off the evil eye. Although, I find it difficult to believe that anyone – evil eye or not, can resist the electric green of a peridot.
Peridot, sometimes called chrysolite, is the transparent gem variety of the mineral olivine. The name is derived the French word ‘peritot’ meaning gold as the mineral can vary towards this colour; although the finest stones are prized for their ‘oily’ green tone which is caused by the presence of iron. Often found in volcanic rocks, the finest colour is a rich saturated green to yellowish green.
If a man is known by the company he keeps, then gemstones should also be known by the company they keep. To find diamonds, one looks for peridots. It is peridot that leads the way to diamonds.
Peridot is the national gem of Egypt who knew it as the ‘Gem of the Sun’. Legend says it was Cleopatra’s favourite gemstone, and historians now believe that many of the “emeralds” she wore were actually peridot as it was mined for over 3,500 years on St John’s Island in the red sea. Not only that but the 200ct gems embellished in the shrine of Three Holy Kings in Germany’s Cologne Cathedrals were also peridots.
The principle source now is the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. Myanmar also produces peridots. However, these are found in small quantities but the pieces yield are often of bigger sizes. Other peridot sources are Australia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Norway, Pakistan and Vietnam. Today the gemstones are still appreciated for their beauty and associated embodiment of protection, positive power, healing and good health.
Peridots often have inclusion in them, but charmingly they often resemble lily pads, almost as if they are souvenirs of their journey. If you know someone who enjoys collecting stones with exquisite inclusions, a peridot just might be the perfect gift.
Although the peridot has a charm of its own, I always advise to not wear it for everyday jewellery, Peridot is one of the softer gems at between 6.5-7 on Moh’s Scale. Even while handling loose peridot stones, one has to take care so that the facets don’t abrade against each other. It scratches more easily as compared to other gemstones.
One has to take extreme care while cleaning peridot jewellery. It is sensitive to rapid changes in temperature. Therefore, the best way to clean is with warm water and mild soap. Steam cleaning is not advisable or using chemicals such as sulfuric acid as they can strip away the polish and surface of the stone.
As the birthstone for August and it is also by association the birthstone for star sign Leo. Their characteristics are said to be dramatic, outgoing, fiery and self-assured characteristics and traits. My fiancé Phil Ainsworth is an August Baby and I can confirm these traits are true!
I often tell people that the celebration of you and any of your loved one’s birthdays, families and relationships can be represented by the significant use of birthstones. Any unique combination together can therefore tell a very personal story of the union of loved ones.
Call it a stroke of luck, but I find it amusing that my birthstone is diamond while my fiancé Phil’s birthstone is peridot. Peridot and diamonds are often found together in nature. To find diamonds, one looks for peridots. This wonderful coincidence is a story that will always be especially meaningful to me. I should therefore especially like to celebrate this union with a suite of peridot and diamond jewellery…