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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Trillion-cut green forsterite (var. peridot) weighing 100.15 ct.
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G11406-00
Locality Pakistan
Weight 100.15 ct

Purchased with funds from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation in 2011.

More than 3,000 years ago Egyptians fashioned beads from golden green crystals mined on an island in the Red Sea. Known to the Greeks and Romans as Topazios, this island off the coast of Egypt was one of the most important sources for fine peridot, the gem variety of the mineral forsterite. Originally called topazion, after the island, this gem was renamed peridot in the 18th century. The island is known today as Zabargad, the Arabic name for peridot. Other major sources of peridot include Burma, the U.S. (Arizona), Norway, Brazil, China, Australia, and Pakistan. Peridot is a magnesium-iron silicate; pure forsterite is colorless, but iron atoms replacing some of the magnesium produce the green shades. Too much iron results in unattractive dark-colored stones with brown tones. Peridot gems can range in color from yellowish-green to olive to brownish-green. However, peridot is most prized when it is an intense dark green color without undertones of yellow or brown. This modified triangular-cut peridot from Pakistan is not only large in size, weighing 100.15 carats, but it is an exceptional vivid green gem with great brilliance.


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