Peridot makes for a rare case of simplicity in the gem kingdom. Remember the infinite types of possible garnet combinations?
No so here. There is peridot and then there is peridot, that’s all.
You may add those with Ludwigite needles as ‘Rutilated Peridot’, a misnomer but easier to understand than “Ludwigited Peridot”. These were found in limited number in the Pakistani part of the Himalayas and we were lucky to acquire a few of the finest specimens at the time. The combination of good luster and linear inclusions gives a most unique visual experience. Must see!
Sometimes also called “Olivine” (in fact the family name of the mineral with only the one gem-member peridot) it is magnesium iron silicate and has been mined for thousands of years in volcanic areas. Not unlikely the oldest gems mentioned in human history, not least in the bible, though perhaps names have been swapped with topaz (despite the fact that there is NO green topaz) during the centuries. It was also sold as a type of "emerald light" to the naïve medieval churches of Europe.
Today, there is a mass market for cheap light green peridots and a sophisticated collector segment for big and strongly colored green peridots, which are valuable and rare. Especially those from Burma have, as so often, a legendary status and demand top rates, while the cheapest peridot comes from China. Such light green and yellow green peridots in smaller sizes are in good supply and can even be found in calibrated cuts in department store jewelry.
The rarest peridots however are NOT from this earth, but found in outer space and in or on meteorites. Fascinating! On my must-have-list. Personally, I would love to wear one in jewelry, considering my professional choice.
As a birthstone it is honored with its own month, August, which shows that it occupied an important role as healing gem with magic properties in ancient times, representing and assuring friendship and faithfulness in many legends and poetry.