From ancient Egypt to Hawaii’s beaches, peridot is a striking green gemstone with a fascinating history. Peer into peridot’s romantic story.
Evil spirits that plagued ancient Egyptians were kept at bay by a powerful charm: peridot. This magnificent green gemstone has been mined even since Biblical times, when it was known as chrysolite. In 1912, it became the official gemstone of August. To commemorate the gem’s history and power, Dede Marconato Contemporary Design has drawn on the Hawaiian legends of a fiery goddess to create “Pele’s Tears”.
Peridot was a powerful element in the life of ancient Egyptians, and not just as jewellery. A very spiritual stone in Ancient Egypt, peridot drinks were especially popular among priests of the goddess Isis. Drinking crushed peridot was believed to bring them closer to nature, bring happiness, attract love and foster friendships.
Queen Cleopatra was described as adorned in emerald jewellery. Historians and gemologists have hotly debated whether her emeralds were, in fact, mostly peridots, given that both were mined in Egypt during her reign.
Imperial adoration wasn’t limited to the Pharaonic era. The ancient Romans were quite fond of the gemstone and coveted the brilliant green sparkle. They nicknamed the stone “Evening Emerald”. The Romans believed that peridot burned with an inner fire that would glow at night. In some ancient cultures miners searched for peridot during the early evening or at night when they said it was the easiest to find.
Halfway around the world, peridot crystals had a more mystical quality. It was once believed that the green peridot crystals found in volcanic ashes were the tears of Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, fire and lightning. When set in gold, this gem is said to protect the wearer from nightmares.
Today, the island of Oahu’s beaches consist of tiny grains of peridot. Although Hawaii’s volcanoes have produced some peridot large enough to be cut into gemstones, virtually all peridot sold in Hawaii today is from Arizona.
The spirit of the story, however, still inspires modern jewellers who feel for Pele’s tears. I have channeled my inner volcanic goddess, and designed a peridot collection called Pele’s Tears. While traveling in Burma, the perfect peridot specimens caught my eye. As a gemologist, I collect gems that tell a story and felt these gems spoke to me.
My story – Pele’s story – took the form of a beautiful pair of peridot earrings, 6.24 carats set in 18 karat gold with 0.24 carats of G colour diamonds. The force of the volcano can be felt in their striking and contemporary form. Their brilliance matches the summer sun, making them perfect for a summer combination – and perfect to be August’s birthstone.
If you are married do not forget that peridot is the anniversary gemstone for the 16th year of marriage. A beautiful ring, pendant or pair of earrings look stunning set in yellow gold. Harkening back to the mystique of ancient Egypt, the gems bring the wearer success, peace, good luck, and most importantly, helps his or her dreams to become true. They are a wonderful and heartfelt gift for a loved one.
The wellspring of the tears
Zabargard (St. John’s Island), Egypt produces some of the prized versions of the gem. The island was rediscovered about 100 years ago and small quantities of peridot are still produced there. Today gem quality peridot also comes from Arizona, Burma, China and Pakistan.
Caring for Your Peridot Jewellery
Like all gems, peridot must be treated with respect. Steam cleaning is not recommended as rapid or extreme temperature change can crack or break peridot. The best method for cleaning stones is to wash with warm soapy water, rinse and dry with a soft cloth.
Whether it is the tears of the goddess that move you, the connection to ancient queens and Pharoahs or simply its brilliance in a gold setting, peridot is a gemstone that is a vital addition to your summer collection.