August is upon us, and peridot is the birthstone for the month. Peridot is a gem-quality variety of the mineral olivine. Peridot is an idiochromatic (having a distinctive and constant coloration) gem, meaning its color comes from the basic chemical composition of the mineral itself and not from minor traces of impurities. Thus, peridot is found only in green. In fact, peridot is one of the few gemstones available that can be found only in one color, although the shades of green may vary from light yellowish to dark brownish-green. It is one of the few stones that come in a single color and the intensity of color is determined by the amount of iron it contains.
Peridot is sometimes referred to as 'the poor man's emerald' or as 'chrysolite', a word derived from the Greek word 'goldstone'. It is one of the oldest known gemstone, with records dating back as early as 1500 B.C. Historically, the volcanic island of Zabargad (St. John) in the Red Sea, east of Egypt, had the most important deposit that was exploited for over 3500 years. Today, the finest quality peridot comes from Mogok in Burma, although Pakistani peridot is now highly regarded as well. There are other important deposits found in Arizona, China and Vietnam. Peridot has also been discovered in fallen meteors and it has also been discovered on Mars and the moon in olivine form. Peridot can be found in many shapes including fancies and traditional rounds, ovals, emeralds (octagons) and cushions. Peridot is not typically treated or enhanced in any way. Imitation peridot can also be found, typically of synthesized spinel or sapphire.
Peridot is relatively durable. It is considerably softer than many other gems, so care should be taken to prevent scratches. It is not particularly sensitive to acid, but it does have a brittle tenacity. It is also known to burst under great stress, so avoid settings that expose the gem to high pressure (tension-set rings). Peridot can be easily cleaned using warm, soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove any soapy residue.
Always remove any gems and jewelry before playing sports, exercising or performing harsh household chores. When storing peridot gemstones, store them separately and away from other gems and jewelry. If possible, wrap them using a soft cloth and place them inside a fabric-lined protected jewelry box.
If you would like to see some beautiful examples, come into the store and see the wide ranges of this wonderful stone.