What are Peridots?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Peridots are yellow-green gems, enjoyed by many. They may also be called precious olivine.

Peridots may help reduce nightmares.
Peridots may help reduce nightmares.

Peridots are sometimes confused with emeralds because of their coloring. The distinction is simple, though. Emeralds range in color from green to dark green, with blue undertones. Peridots always have a touch of yellow in their coloring, and are generally lighter in color. HOwever, Peridots are sometimes referred to as evening emeralds, as their color appears darker at night.

Peridots can be found in a number of places throughout the world. They are mined in areas surrounding the Red Sea, Egypt, and Myanmar, but also are common to areas of Mexico. In the US, some peridots can be found in Arizona. These gems are usually less valuable than peridots found in the Middle East because they contain more flaws. The highest quality gems are currently being mined in Pakistan.

Peridot is a combination of two minerals, forsterite and fayalite, and is colored by the presence of iron. It is softer than many other gems, having a hardness of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Scale. This hardness is still significant and makes peridot a nice choice in jewelry.

With new findings of peridots in Pakistan, the gem is enjoying a rise in popularity. It has always enjoyed certain popularity, being the August birthstone. Many people again confuse emeralds and peridots when choosing birthstones. Emeralds are the birthstones of May. Those who are not particular, however, could wear either green stone as a birthstone, and some find the bluer tendencies of the emerald to be more flattering depending upon skin tone.

Peridots can be quite large, and the relatively unflawed finds in Pakistan have led to some lovely selections. The largest known quality gems can exceed 100 carats. Smaller stones can be purchased at value prices over the Internet, through jewelers, and at gem fairs.

Since peridots are relatively inexpensive, as compared to more precious gemstones, one can usually find a high degree of quality in selection. One to two carat stones may cost approximately 80 US dollars (USD) per carat. Larger unflawed stones may range in price to upwards of 500 USD per carat.

Peridots are certainly attractive and have been thought so by many cultures throughout history. In Hawaii, where peridots can also be found, they are sometimes called Pele’s tears. Ancient Egyptian jewelry contains peridot as well. In gem folklore, those who wear peridots may be accorded both good luck and peace. It is also said that these gems can reduce nightmares and repel evil spirits.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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