Peridot gemstones tend to elicit a rather strong reaction: you either love them for their luminescent lime-green hue, or you can’t back away from them fast enough. No matter your feelings towards their color tone, though, you’ll be fascinated to learn about some of the under appreciated roles peridot gems have played throughout gemological history – as well as a surprising recently-discovered source for this mineral…
Peridot is one of the oldest-mined gemstones. Sourced from peridot rock from the earth’s upper mantle, peridot is the gem variety of the mineral olivine. Ancient Egyptians mined peridot on the Red Sea island of Zabargad and today you can find many of these centuries-old large fine peridots in gemological museums across the globe. Called the “gem of the sun” by the ancient Egyptians, the gem was thought to bring protection to the wearer and was used in the finest royal jewelry.
Interestingly, peridot has historically been confused with its other green gem counterpart, emerald. Indeed, one informal name for peridot is “evening emerald”, but in fact the two gems are entirely different. Savvy Styebook readers know that emeralds are a completely different mineral – beryl – and should be a deep, grassy-green, whereas peridot are olive or lime-hued. And yet, many historians believe that Cleopatra’s famed emerald collection may have actually been comprised of peridot. Even more amazing to me, people believed for centuries that the 200-carat gems adorning the Shrine of the Magi in the Cologne Cathedral were emeralds. They’re peridot!
Peridot is relatively common and can be located in some lava flows in the United States, China, and Vietnam. More rarely, gem miners find the material in Finland, Pakistan, Myanmar, and the island of Zabargad as large crystals lining pockets of certain types of solidified molten rock. Peridot is created deep in the earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface when the sea floor spreads or volcanic eruptions occur, bringing to the surface rocks and materials from the earth’s inner layers. Recently, peridot has been discovered on meteorites that have fallen to the earth, meaning that it exists in extraterrestrial sources as well – how cool is that!
If you’re on the hunt for tasteful ways to integrate peridot into your life, stop by to talk through what we can create for you. We have tons of custom options that can be personalized to suit your particular style.
I came to join Alexandria & Company by way of love: my husband Tim has owned the stop for nearly ten years, and I started by helping him on Saturdays so that we could spend more time together. Eventually, I quit my other life in the legal field to become Alx&Co’s Creative Director and co-owner with Tim. Now, we run our small business together in Old Town and I haven’t looked back.
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.