A complete guide to peridot

Peridot has been used for centuries in jewelry. It is an eye-catching stone that is very easy to distinguish due to its bright lime-green color. You will only ever find peridot in this color (with some slight variations in shade) as peridot is an idiochromatic stone.

The word peridot is believed to stem from the Arabic word for gem – faridat. The stone also has a few interesting nicknames, simultaneously called ‘the poor man’s emerald’ and the ‘evening emerald’. There is some confusion regarding how to pronounce the word peridot correctly. It can be pronounced with and without the t at the end (pair-uh-doe or pair-uh-dot). However, industry professionals generally pronounce it with the t.

While we admit that not everyone may fall in love with a peridot, you can be sure that it has something to offer everyone. So let’s get right into it.

1. What is peridot?Rough peridot stone

Peridot has been found in Asian countries such as China, Burma and Afghanistan. Some of the best and most valuable peridot comes from Pakistan. The state of Arizona, USA however, has been the most noteworthy producer of peridot.

Here’s an interesting fact:

Most gemstones that are comprised of minerals are formed in the Earth’s crust, which is only about 3-25 miles deep. In contrast, diamonds and peridots are formed in the earth’s mantle, which can go as deep as 55 miles. They undergo intense heat and pressures and are eventually brought to the surface through violent geological activity. This is why peridot is also called the volcanic gemstone!

With regards to its chemical composition, peridot is the gem variety of olivine. Olivine is comprised of two minerals – fayalite and forsterite. Fayalite is rich in iron which gives peridot its striking color. While most gemstones, including colored diamonds, gain their color from the presence of trace elements during formation, peridot gains its color from the minerals of which it is comprised. In other words, it creates its own color. This makes peridot an idiochromatic gemstone and is also the reason why it is only found in one color.

2. How do I evaluate peridot?

In determining the value of any precious stone, we always look to the 4Cs – cut, color, clarity and carat.

How to evaluate the color of peridot 

Color is a critical aspect of peridot. As we mentioned above, it is one of those rare gemstones that are found in only one color.

While peridot is known for its lime-green color, you can also find stones with yellow and brown hues. Yellowish-green peridots are very common, as pure green peridots are quite rare.  However, brownish peridots are considered undesirable and not very valuable.  

It goes without saying that the best stones are those without any secondary tones, that exhibit intense color. These are very rare and are often found in larger sized peridots.

Evaluating the clarity of your peridot

 Peridot that used for jewelry is generally eye-clean with no inclusions. Because the stone is highly transparent, inclusions within the stone can easily be seen. Where there are inclusions, the price of the peridot drops dramatically and the stone loses its value.

While smaller sized peridots are generally flawless to the naked eye, larger stones may sometimes contain inclusions which dull the stone and give it a cloudy appearance. Some common inclusions in peridot are disc shaped impurities (also called ‘lily pads’ due to their shape) as well as foreign mineral crystals that can appear black.

It is critical to evaluate the clarity of the peridot before you purchase to ensure that there are no visible inclusions in the stone.

Note: Generally, if a gemstone is less included it is more valuable. However, there are those rare exceptions such as chatoyancy in gemstones where the inclusions can actually raise the value of the stone.

Checking out the cut of peridot

Peridot can be cut into all the popular gemstone shapes, such as round, princess, marquise, oval, emerald, radiant, heart and cushion. Because it is highly transparent, gemstone cutters tend to facet it in order to increase its brilliance.

Peridot can be a difficult gemstone to cut because it is prone to cracking or shattering during the cutting process. The rough can contain tiny impurities that make it difficult for cutters and requires expert workmanship.

How to choose the carat weight of peridot

Peridot gemstones that are under 5 carats are generally quite reasonably priced. Small peridot stones are easily found whereas larger sizes are rare and can be very pricey. For peridots over 5 or so carats, the price rises dramatically.

3. What about synthetic or treated peridot on the market?

Although you can find synthetic peridot on the market, it is not common and most stones you will come across are mined.

Also, unlike most other gemstones, peridots are not enhanced or treated in order to improve color or performance. So you can be sure that the stone you buy is in its original form.

Note: This is not to say that enhancements or treatments are necessarily bad. Take rubies for example. These are almost always treated to improve color and this is an accepted industry practice.

 4. Are there peridot imitations on the market?

Yes. You will need to watch out for imitations that masquerade as peridot. These are called simulants and are just look-alikes.

One common peridot imitation is synthetic spinel. It can be an accurate imitation of peridot and can be difficult to distinguish.

Here are some more common peridot simulants that can be difficult to distinguish.

Peridot or glass? A common imitator

Glass (with various treatments) can look exactly like peridot and can be very difficult for even experts to tell apart. If you suspect that your peridot is, in fact, glass, there are a few tests you can conduct to check your stone:

  • The naked eye test: Examine the peridot carefully. Check whether the stone has brown or yellow tints and if it changes color under different light sources. Peridot, even the best varieties, come with secondary tints (we talked about this in detail in the color section) and does not change color whether you view it under artificial or natural light.
  • The microscope test: Use a microscope to check the stone carefully. If the stone is glass, you may see round bubbles within. If the inclusions are disk-shaped or there are dark mineral crystals, then it is highly likely that your stone is a peridot.
  • The refraction test: For this you can use a microscope or just rely on your naked eye. Hold the stone up towards a source of light such as a light bulb. Look for the refraction within the stone. Because peridot has double refraction you will see a double ray of light. However, if you only see one ray of light, you are probably holding up glass.
  • The magnet test: We discussed above that peridot contains iron (this gives it its color, remember?). We all know that iron is attracted to magnets. Using this information, you can place a peridot on a piece of Styrofoam in a bowl of water to make it float in the center of the bowl. Then, taking a strong magnet, try to attract the stone. If you notice any movement towards the magnet, it’s likely you have a real peridot gemstone.

Peridot or cubic zirconia?

 Green colored cubic zirconia (CZ) is a lab-created stone that can easily imitate a peridot. Here are three ways to distinguish the two:

  • The main giveaway is the difference in price. CZ is extremely cheap (you can find a good quality CZ for about 20 dollars per carat) while peridot is much more expensive with high quality peridot gemstones often in the realm of hundreds of dollars.
  • Check the durability of the stone. CZ is highly durable and has a Mohs hardness ranking of 8.5 while peridot ranks from 6.5 to 7. This means that peridot can be damaged/scratched by any substance that has a ranking over 7.5.
  • Another main difference lies in clarity. Because CZ is lab-created, it is generally flawless and has no visible inclusions. Peridot (even the very best kind) contains various microscopic cracks and impurities. This is common in mined stones.

 5. Peridot value and priceGreen peridot as eyes of a tiger ring

The price of peridot can vary greatly depending on factors such as origin, color, size and cut. Generally, you can find stones up to 3-4 carats between the price range of approximately $50 to $500.  Very high quality stones can cost more and of course, the larger the carat size, the increase in price per carat.

As we discussed above, the stones that come from Myanmar and Pakistan generally cost more than those sourced from other locations.

6. Peridot in jewelry

Peridot is a lively gemstone and can elevate a simple outfit immediately. Here are some ways to wear peridot:

Bring life to your wardrobe

Peridot is perfect when you need to add a pop of color to neutrals, such as black, white, beige or navy. Adding peridot will energize these colors. However, bear in mind that a little peridot goes a long way! So take care not to overdo it. Keep the pieces simple and classy.

Choose your favorite metal

Peridot looks amazing against any metal color. For a more classic and traditional look, choose rose gold or yellow gold. Green and yellow creates an analogous color combination that forms a calming and immediately likeable impression. For a more edgy and modern look, pair peridot with silver-colored settings.

 Go multicolor

The trend of wearing jewelry items with multicolour gemstones is very popular.

For this look, you can choose a multi-stone ring setting or cluster earrings that contain peridot with other colourful gemstones. Pair this with neutral outfits to make the most of the vibrant colors.

For a variation, try stacking dainty rings that contain peridot and other gemstones. You could also stack tennis bracelets, each made of a different gemstone. As you can see, there are plenty ways to get the multicolor gemstone look!

 Peridot rings Freen peridot ring close up

Peridots can be set as the centerstone of a ring or as accents for neutral colored stones such as diamonds. A small stone set in a simple delicate setting will be a perfect accompaniment to casual or workwear.

For a more dramatic look, choose a peridot cocktail ring to really make a statement. Try a multi-stone or large cluster setting for a deviation from the usual single centerpiece stone setting. 

You may decide that you want a peridot engagement ring. There are many stunning peridot engagement ring designs available, however, there are a couple of things to consider. Because peridot has a very distinct color it can clash with outfits. Considering the fact that you will be wearing the engagement ring regularly, it can be difficult to match colors at times.

Another factor to consider is the durability of the stone. Peridot is not a very hard stone and can be damaged easily (more on this later). This can also be an impediment to daily wear.

Having said that, many non-traditional couples who want something different opt for peridot engagement rings. With appropriate care, you can have your peridot engagement ring last a long time.

 Peridot birthstone jewelry

 Peridot is the birthstone for August and as such makes for perfect birthday, anniversary or coming of age gifts for August babies. Raw peridot as pendants and set in rings are also unique and eye-catching for birthstone jewelry. Choose simple and classy pieces for everyday wear.

For those not born in August, if you wish to,  you can follow the tradition of only wearing peridot during this month.

Peridot earrings

 A great way to showcase peridot is through a classy pair of earrings. Because of its color, even simple studs are eye-catching and dressy.

You can find beautifully crafted stud earrings that go well with casual or office wear. For a dressier look, choose dangle earrings to add that extra touch of elegance.  

7. Taking care of the peridot gemstone

Peridot is a relatively hard stone with a Mohs ranking of 6.5 to 7. While it is a very good gemstone for daily wear, you will need to take care of to maintain its polish and luster.

First and foremost, do not use ultrasonic or steam cleaners when cleaning peridots. Instead, use a commercial jewelry cleaner or soap and warm water with a soft brush. Once washed, make sure you rinse it in water and dry it thoroughly. It is advised to only do this when necessary and to limit this cleaning to a few times a year.

When storing your peridot, you can wrap it in a cotton or velvet cloth. This keeps it free from dust and from being scratched by other items.

Keep peridot away from chemicals such as harsh detergents, bleach and cosmetics. It is always better to take off your peridot jewelry when applying makeup.

Because the stone does not handle heat well, avoid exposing your peridot to high temperatures. This can affect its color and cause it to fade. Protect it from knocks and bumps, especially during strenuous activities. This applies especially to peridot rings which will likely be more exposed than earrings or pendants.

8. The symbolism and meanings of peridot

Peridot has been used in jewelry since ancient times. It is even mentioned in the Bible as pitdah, which is its Hebrew name. Today, it is popular as the birthstone for August.

Many believe that peridot symbolises strength and courage. It is believed to have protective powers and to help its wearer overcome depression, anger, jealousy and anxiety, as well as provide peace from nightmares. It is also thought to strengthen life and to attract wealth and growth. 

9. Where can I buy Peridot?

While you can shop for peridot at brick-and-mortar stores, you are bound to have more options if you take your search online. However, always check the after sales service and returns policy, in case of any issues. You will find that some retailers have a peridot quality scale – A, AA, AAA. Unfortunately, this varies from company to company and according to the GIA there is no standard quality grading for peridot.

Because many vendors have whole sections dedicated to birthstones, there are many retail options where you can find beautiful and classy peridot jewelry.

Blue Nile offers an impressive selection of peridot jewelry at good prices.

You can also check out Amazon’s collection of peridot jewelry that ranges from about $5 to $18,000! There is surely something for everyone.