Perhaps, no one gemstone aroused so much misunderstanding in the context of this term as Chrysolite. Some jewelers called it Chrysoberyl, whereas the true Chrysoberyl was called Chrysolite.
Such misunderstandings, we can also trace among the ancient treatises. Like this, Pliny the Elder called it “Topazios.” According to Pliny, this stone was found in the vicinity of Alabastron, near Thebais (the Region in Upper Egypt). He also distinguishes such two varieties of the “Topazios” as the “chrysopteron” and the “prasoides.” Whereas Hauy called it “cymophane” and Werner called it “Chrysoberyl.”
It was called even as Beryl, but, actually, in some degree, Pliny was right, because the “prasoides,” described by him is indeed Peridot, which, in turn is indeed just a color variety of Chrysolite (“chrysopteron” of Pliny).
Origin of Peridot and its history
The word “Chrysolite” derived from the Greek word, which means “golden stone.” When the Chrysolite is of a deep olive-green color, then it is called Peridot, when it is of a yellowish-green – it is an Olivine. Hence, Peridot, Olivine and Chrysolite are exactly equal and identical with and differ only in color.
Therefore, we can conclude, that, chemically, the Peridot — is a variety of the Chrysolite of a deep olive-green color, thus all the further description concerning the Chrysolite could be applied directly to the Peridot.
The Romans endowed the Peridot of a great value, this is evidenced by the intaglios with the head of Minerva, and the other with the head of Medusa, discovered during the excavations of the ancient Greek ruins. This fact is caused by the softness of Peridot, it is less than 7/10 according to the Mohs hardness scale, therefore it was used for engraving by the ancients.
Nobody knows the true origin of Peridot, due to the fact that his “mineral brother” Olivine is of a celestial origin. It was delivered to the earth together with the asteroids, although the Peridot is often found among the lava rocks.
All the varieties of Chrysolite, including Peridot and Olivine are obtained in the Bernardino Valley in Myanmar, in Ceylon, Arizona, New Mexico and Queensland. Peridot is also mined in Brazil, Egypt, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
The Value of the Peridot
First of all, it is worth noting that the Peridot is a quite soft gemstone (usually 6,5 – 7 according to Mohs Scale), therefore it is suitable for jewelry which will not be scratched. Set into the ring, it will soon become progressively worse. Furthermore, its shine possesses a slightly oily character. On the other hand, the Peridot is relatively heavy.
Most valuable specimens of Peridot are of the bottle green color. They usually supply from Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), Upper Egypt, Myanmar, Brazil and the Levant (historical region in Southwest Asia).
At one time, George F. Kunz (1856 – 1932) asserted that all true Peridots which were sold in its time, were taken out of the old jewelry, and he linked it to the fact, that all the mines were exhausted two centuries before his life.
Modern Peridots and other color varieties of Chrysolite are of a small size, although they possess of fine color and transparency. Some specimens, called Olivine of sufficient size could be obtained out of the meteorites, but they will be cost more than usual Peridot, due to its unusual origin.
Mystical, Magical and other significances attributed to Peridot
Peridot, as a variety of Chrysolite, was mentioned in ancient literature, medieval treatises and even in the Bible. But, as we described above, there was some misunderstanding concerning the fact, which gemstone was described indeed under the name “Chrysolite” or “Peridot.” Therefore, let’s admit that sets coerces said exactly about the Peridot.
Thus, let’s define, who had mentioned the unusual properties of this gemstone.
Diodones Siculus described Peridot, as the gemstone which is capable to change its color during the day and becoming especially bright at night, thereby he mentioned the ability of Peridot to supervise its wearer.
This gemstone is also mentioned, set into the Ring of Hermes, during the Ceremony of the Beetle (scarabaeus). At this ceremony it was represented in the form of any vessel (probably a model) made of Chrysolite.
The ancients knew about its extraterrestrial origin, therefore worshiped the Peridot as a divinity. Today, the Peridot is considered as the Birthstone for August.