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The Evening Emerald: August Gemstone Spotlight on the Peridot

American bangle with 14K gold and silver cupids on either side of a 4ct antique cushion cut peridot surrounded by rosecut diamonds, 36.2DWT.

Victorian bangle with 14K gold and silver cupids on either side of a 4ct antique cushion cut peridot surrounded by rosecut diamonds, American, 19th century.

From bringing the wearer power to protection, a multitude of mystical properties have been ascribed to the peridot over the ages. One observable bit of magic is its tendency to appear an even more brilliant green under artificial light, hence its long-held title of “evening emerald.” As one of the oldest known gemstones, the peridot has had plenty of time to grow its reputation. According to Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.), “the green stone of Zabargad” was mined as early as 1500 B.C. A small island in the Red Sea, Zabargad was the ancient world’s main source of peridot and was mined well into the 1940s. The island’s beaches are said to have a greenish tint due to deposits of tiny peridot crystals.

Seaman Schepp pin, 18K gold with diamonds, amethyst, aqua, peridot, kunzite and pink tormaline. American, circa 1950"s.Seaman Schepp pin, 18K gold with diamonds, amethyst, aqua, peridot, kunzite and pink tormaline. American, circa 1950s. Brian Stewart.

Throughout history, peridots have been mistaken for emeralds, despite being an entirely different hue to the darker green emerald. Some historians believe the famed emeralds of Cleopatra were actually peridots, and Crusaders brought many of the “emeralds” back to Europe to decorate churches. Peridots are actually unlike emeralds and most other gems on Earth. Excepting the diamond, the peridot is the only gem formed in the earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanic activity. For this reason, the Hawaiians call the gem “the tears of Pele,” and revere it as a gift from Pele, the goddess of volcanoes.

These "old style" signed Percossi earrings show beautiful handcrafted workmanship; the attention to detail is evident.  Copper and gold blend with citrine, peridot and pearl stones.  Blue enamel to add contrast and 14K post with clip.  Origin and date unknown.“Old style” signed Percossi earrings showing beautiful handcrafted workmanship.  Copper and gold blend with citrine, peridot and pearl stones.  Blue enamel to add contrast and 14K post with clip.  Origin and date unknown. Melody Rodger Jewelry.

Today, peridots are found in Burma, Pakistan, China, and Arizona in the United States, and are the traditional gift for the 16th wedding anniversary. As a gem quite literally tried by fire, and bearing the mythological promise of protection from the evil eye as well as envious thoughts, in addition to attraction of happiness, good cheer, and wealth, it seems a good stone to give someone you love at any time! During the Middle Ages, peridot was pierced, strung on the hair of an ass, and attached to the left arm for best effect. Fortunately, modern jewelry settings showcase the glistening gem just as beautifully.

14K gold turtle pin with amethysts, citrines, aqua-garnets, peridot and diamonds, German, 1960"s.14K gold turtle pin with amethysts, citrines, aqua-garnets, peridot and diamonds, German, 1960s. Brian Stewart.