1 In 2006, NASA’s explorer spacecraft, Stardust, returned to earth with mineral samples gathered from near the sun. Among other particles they found gem-quality peridot, thought to be as old as our solar system.
2 Peridot is a type of a silicate mineral called olivine. It’s one of the few gems that occurs in only one colour, green.
3 It’s pigmentation is due to the presence of iron trace elements. Depending on the amount of iron present, peridots may appear lighter or darker, ranging from pale golden-green to intense olive green.
4 Peridot is found in the earth’s upper mantle, in lava deposits, or at meteorite crash sites. It occurs all over the world, including USA, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Australia, China, Pakistan, Myanmar and Norway.
5 In Cologne, Germany, stands the impressive Cathedral of Saint Peter and Mary. The most famous piece of art inside it is The Shrine of the Three Kings, adorned with gold and more than 1,000 gemstones. For several centuries it was thought that the large green jewels decorating the shrine were emeralds. They’re in fact impressive 200-carat peridots.
6 The largest cut peridot in the world weighs 311 carats and is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. This epic mixed cushion shape stone originated from the Zabargad Island in Egypt, where peridots were first mined as early as 1500 B.C. by the Pharaohs. Another impressive peridot forms part of Russia’s Diamond Fund, a unique collection of gems, jewellery and specimens on display in the Kremlin Armoury. The yellowish-green stone weighs 192.75 carats and once belonged to the Russian royal family.
7 Peridot is a gem-quality form of the mineral olivine.
8 Peridot has been the official August Birthstone since 1912.
9 It is one of the oldest known gemstones, with ancient records documenting the mining of peridot from as early as 1500 B.C.
10 Peridot was first used as a talisman in the ancient world. It has a longstanding mystical reputation and was once thought to ward off anxiety.