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The Extreme Gem: Exploring the Meaning, History, and Uses of Peridot

The Extreme Gem: Exploring the Meaning, History, and Uses of Peridot
Born under the extreme conditions of the Earth's upper mantle, peridot has been revered and sought after since ancient times. It is believed to have many healing powers and is an important component in aligning the Heart and Solar Plexus Chakras to balance the body and mind.
Buzzle Staff
Jan 25, 2018
Origin of the Word "Peridot"
Peridot through remote angle
Although it is primarily known as the birthstone of August, its nickname, according to the Gemological Institute of America, is the "extreme gem" due to the extreme conditions in which it is formed. The origin of the word peridot is unknown, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it may have evolved from the Old French word peritot. There are several variations of the word in Middle English. Sources have suggested that its name has evolved from the Arabic word faridat, which means gem.
Peridot Highlights
Peridot is the only other gem besides diamond that is formed in the mantle of the Earth, hence its nickname "The Extreme Gem" due to the extreme conditions in which it is formed. It can come in shades of green, yellow, or brown depending on the amount of ferrous iron in its composition.
Earliest records tell us that peridot was mined as early as 1500 B.C. The Egyptians had a monopoly on the mining of peridot for many centuries on the Island of Zabargad.
It is believed that Cleopatra's vast emerald collection was actually peridots. Many other cultures, such as the Romans, ancient Hawaiians, and European Christians collected and revered peridot.
The largest peridot is in the United States at the Smithsonian Museum and is of 310 carats.
Peridot was believed to have restorative and healing powers, blocking out negative energy and allowing one to obtain clarity to perceive the world around them unhindered by the thoughts of others. The green peridot is used to balance the Heart Chakra, while the yellow peridot is used to balance the Solar Plexus Chakra.
Formation of Peridot
Perdidot on white surface
Along with diamond, peridot is the only other gem that forms in the Earth's mantle. While diamond is formed deeper in the mantle, peridot is formed in the upper mantle and is brought to the surface by tectonic or volcanic activity. Most gems are found in the Earth's crust, which makes peridot that much more unique.
Perdidot flat lay
Peridot is part of the olivine mineral group. Olivines are isomorphous, which means they all have the same crystal structure, but vary in their chemical composition. Peridot's color is dependent upon the amount of ferrous iron. Lower concentrations produce colors of green, while higher concentrations produce yellow and even brownish colors. Its hardness ranges from 6.5 to 7, in comparison to diamond which is a 10, and its hardness typically increases with higher concentrations of magnesium.
Mining of Peridot
Ancient texts have indicated that peridot was mined as early as 1500 B.C. One of the earliest mining sites was under the control of the Kingdom of Egypt. Today, we know it as the Island of Zabargad, but Pliny the Elder stated that his source, Juba, said there is an island called Topazos in the Red Sea. It has also been known as St. John's, Zebirget, and Serpents' Island at different points in history. Today, the main areas where peridot is mined include the United States, China, and Pakistan. Other locations include Vietnam, Finland, and Myanmar.
Peridot Throughout History
The Island of Zabargad was very inhospitable with little vegetation and little fresh water. Temperatures rose to sweltering levels. The Kings of Egypt mined the island with slave labor, who primarily conducted operations at night. This was probably due to the extreme heat during the day. However, the peridot was nicknamed the "evening emerald" for supposedly it was much easier to spot under the moonlight.

The island was such a safeguarded secret that anyone who approached the island without authorization was immediately put to death by the guards. The Egyptians called it the "Gem of the Sun." The Pharaohs used it in jewelry, particularly amulets to ward off evil. They also included them in their tombs, since the ancient Egyptians believed you could take your riches with you to the afterlife.
Cleopatra's Love for Peridots
Peridot precious gems
The famous co-regent of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra VII, was said to be a fanatic for emeralds and had a large collection. However, it was common for ancient cultures to mistake the true nature of a particular gem for they did not have the knowledge and methods that we have today to identify gems. This is why many historians believe that Cleopatra’s famed emerald collection may actually have been a collection of peridots.
Hawaiian Legends of Peridot
Peridot crystals
The Ancient Egyptians weren't the only ancient culture that became infatuated with peridot. The ancient Hawaiians believed that the rare peridot gem was the tears of the Goddess of Fire, Pele. They believed that peridot had healing powers and would bring you power and wealth. On the island of Oahu, there is an entire beach formed of peridot sand, grounded down by the power of the ocean.
Peridot in the Bible
Peridot also appears in the Bible, specifically, in the Book of Exodus. God gave Moses instructions on everything that would be made for the High Priest Aaron. This included a breastplate with twelve gemstones, which is the origin of birthstones. Peridot is mentioned in the bible as pitdah, which is its Hebrew name.
During the Crusades, peridot, known at the time as chrysotile, was often amongst many of the gems and treasure brought back to Europe. Although emeralds were preferred over peridot, nobility and high-ranking officials within the Catholic Church often adorned them. To attest to the previous statement regarding how ancient civilizations often mistook peridots for emeralds, the Shrine of the Three Holy Kings in the Cologne Cathedral in Germany were once thought to be emeralds but it's now known that it was adorned with peridots.
Zabargad was the only known mine of peridot in the ancient world. Though the Egyptians mined it for many centuries, they abandoned it after nearly 3,500 years of production. The island then fell into forgetfulness for many centuries. According to historical documents, it would seem Arabs knew of the location. Several Europeans visited the island, which included a Portuguese explorer in the 16th Century, a Scottish traveler in the 18th Century, and a Naval lieutenant in the East India Trading Company in the 19th Century. After that, it would not be rediscovered until 1905.
During the early 1960s, some of the best peridots were coming out of Burma. They were very high quality, ranging from 20 to 40 carats, and were very affordable. However, after the 1962 Burmese coup d'état, the quality of the peridots coming out of the country was nowhere near where they were before 1962, and on top of that, the asking price was far beyond their worth.
Although the United States is getting a significant amount of competition in peridot production from other countries, Peridot Mesa in the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation still produces roughly 80 to 95 percent of the world's peridots on the commercial market. There is also another mining location in Buell Park, Arizona, as well as three other locations in New Mexico. The United States also boasts of the largest cut peridot.
Uses and Benefits of Peridot
Helps in Avoiding Negativity
Peridot has many healing properties that our ancestors believed in and that many still stand by to this day. When it comes to our minds, peridot allows us to avoid negativity, particularly negative things that haunt us from our past. It allows us to advance forward, and help us fully realize that the past must remain in the past.
Keeps the Mind Calm
Negative emotions typically go hand-in-hand with other mental issues such as extreme anxiety. Peridot works against this negativity, and as such, helps deter one from experiencing anxiety. It can help calm the mind and allow one with sleep disorders to become calmer so they can get a good night’s rest. In repelling negative thoughts, it can help prevent one from experiencing nightmares.
A Natural Cleanser
The stone is also known to help the healing of the body, not just the mind. Peridot is a natural cleanser and helps remove toxins from the body. It functions much like a tonic, cleansing organs while at the same time bolstering them with greater strength and an increased ability for healing regeneration. It is also known to help with disorders of these organs: breast, heart, liver, spleen, digestive tract, and thyroid.
Helps to Obtain Self-Focus
On an emotional level, peridot is believed to help one obtain self-focus to not only block out negative emotions, but at the same time, defend and reject certain negative emotions such as anger, guilt, and jealousy. Its healing properties help one cope with different instances of heartache, and aid in the healing of a damaged ego.
Protects Against Psychic Attack
Peridot's ability to clear any negative blockages in one's mind and body opens up an individual for great spiritual healing. With its ego-balancing characteristics, it allows one to open up more completely to invite in a greater sense of spirituality. It can protect against psychic attack, which further contributes to one’s ability to have clarity and be open to spiritual counsel and direction.
How to Use Peridot
To obtain the benefits, you can carry a peridot tumble stone in your pocket or hold it in your hand during meditation. For the latter, you can acquire peridot mala beads. If you set it in silver jewelry, this can focus its energies on spiritual healing, while set in gold jewelry, it can help you with emotional ailments.
Meditation and Balancing the Heart and Solar Plexus Chakras
Chakra is a Sanskrit word for wheel or disk. In meditation, this is referring to the wheels or disks of energy that flow throughout the body. There are seven Chakras that align from the crown of the head down to the base of the spine. There are two main Chakras that peridot can activate—the Heart Chakra (4th) and the Solar Plexus Chakra (3rd).
The green properties of peridot make it ideal for activating the Heart Chakra, which controls our engagement with the outside world and decides what we embrace or resist. It allows us to acquire understanding and be open to learning, particularly with emotional relationships. This allows us to accept the fluctuations in our relationships, and come to terms with change.

As mentioned before, peridot doesn't just come in shades of green but also yellow. When a peridot comes in a shade of yellow, this energy lends itself more towards the Solar Plexus Chakra. This Chakra is located between our belly buttons and the bottom of our rib-cages. This is the heart of our being and core energy distribution center. Moreover, it controls our immune and digestive systems, which when balanced, allows our bodies to fight off infections and use the nutrients we give our bodies more effectively. On a spiritual level, when the Solar Plexus Chakra is in balance, it allows one to understand the world more completely under their own volition rather than through the eyes of others.
Disclaimer: The information provided here should not be construed as actual medical advice. If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned ailments, symptoms, or diseases, please consult your licensed healthcare specialist.