Peridot is a bright green variety of olivine. It has golden undertones and can vary in depth of colour from quite pale to a dark forest green colour, and can also be found in brown. The vividness of its colour makes it particularly popular and attractive in jewellery. Peridot has been known as Chrysolite in the past, but this title was generally applied to any yellow and greenish yellow stone. It has also historically been incorrectly identified as topaz.
Peridot has a long history – it can be found in excavated Egyptian jewellery from the early 2nd millennium B.C., and the Romans were also fond of this gemstone. Because its radiant green colour does not change even in incandescent light, they nicknamed it the ‘emerald of the evening’. Peridot can be found in medieval churches across Europe. In Cologne Cathedral, for example, there is one particular shrine that is almost entirely inlaid with peridot. It was also particularly popular during the baroque period.
Peridot was originally discovered on St John’s Island in the Red Sea, off the coast of Egypt. It can also be found in Burma, Sri Lanka, the USA and Norway.
For a considerable time, peridot was extremely rare, as the supply in the mines across the world became scarcer and scarcer. In the mid-1990s, however, a large deposit of particularly fine peridots was discovered. These are the best quality peridots ever seen and their abundance means that the demand for this exotic stone can for the present be satisfied.