Monday, August 3, 2009

GEMSTONE OF THE MONTH | PERIDOT

From the distant past to the present day, the peridot gemstone has fascinated many.  Due to its glowing, avocado-green color, ancient Egyptians called it "the gem of the sun" while the ancient Romans called it "evening emerald."

A derivative of the forsterite-fayalite mineral, the peridot is the only gemstone that does not come in different colors, although they do come in subtle variations of green, from yellow-green to olive-green.

This "idiochromatic" quality is due to the lack of impurities within the mineral from which it comes. This uniform color also gives this gem an interesting characteristic: it looks the same in natural and artificial light.

Like diamonds, periodot form deep below the earth's surface and are a result of extreme heat and pressure. They are found in volcanic rock, as well as meteorites. The gemstones are mined in Norway, Brazil, Australia, the Congo, and Hawaii where it is so highly regarded the sands of the beach of Oahu is composed of peridot grains.

Apache Indians in Arizona's San Carlos Reservation mine not only the highest amount of peridot but also the most beautiful. In 1994, some of the largest specimens of uncut, peridot were found in Pakistan.

It is believed the first recorded peridot mine was located on the island of Zebargad near Egypt. Poisonous snakes were said to have killed mine workers that paralyzed the mine's daily functions.  The reigning Pharaoh then had the reptiles killed.

Once work in the mines resumed, however, the mine was kept a secret from outsiders, and the Pharaoh took extreme measures to maintain secrecy. He ordered his guards to kill any unauthorized travelers approaching the island.

Peridots are believed to bestow eloquent speech, emotional security, and sustain marriage to those who own them. Peridot is believed to remove spells, and repel evil spirits. In addition, the gemstone is named in the Book of Exodus representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Some of the world's most famous peridots (each over 200 carats) adorns the Shrine of The Three Kings, a gilded sarcophagus located in the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The shrine is said to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men.

The world's largest peridot (a whopping 310 carats) is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
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Photo 1 (top right): Shrine of The Three Kings
Photo 2 (bottom right): Peridot Gemstone
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