Although peridot is not a rare gemstone, it is the August birthstone and the gemstone of the month and one of the oldest known gemstones, with ancient written records documenting the mining of this stone as early as 1500 B.C. This is a gem that is especially connected with ancient Egypt, and some historians believe that the famous emeralds of Cleopatra were actually peridots.
In natural terms, peridot’s history is different from that of almost all other gems because most gems are formed in the earth’s crust, but peridot forms in magma in the upper mantle, about 20 to 55 miles deep. It is brought to the surface by tectonic or volcanic activity.
The main source of peridot in the ancient world was Topazos Island, now known as Zabargad or St. John’s Island, in the Egyptian Red Sea, but today the most commercially important producer in the world is the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Arizona. [Read more...]