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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Peridot gemstones

Photograph of a group of peridots from the National Gem Collection
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
SpecimenCatalog NumberLocalityWeight
Forsterite (var. peridot)NMNH G3705-00Myanmar [Burma]286.6 ct
Forsterite (var. peridot)NMNH G3398-00Egypt311.8 ct
Forsterite (var. peridot)NMNH G8964-00122.66 ct
Forsterite (var. peridot)NMNH G7832-00103.25 ct
Forsterite (var. peridot)NMNH G10060-00Pakistan18.13 ct
Forsterite (var. peridot)NMNH G1925-00Arizona, United States8.9 ct
Forsterite (var. peridot)NMNH G9982-00Norway4.1 ct
Forsterite (var. peridot)NMNH G9712-00Trachtyte Hill, Antarctica3.07 ct
Forsterite (var. peridot)NMNH G9919-00Arizona, United States34.65 ct

Peridot was originally called topazion after the island of Topazios (now Zabargad), an important source of the gem since ancient times. Eventually, the gem came to be named topaz. During the eighteenth century, for reasons that are not clear, the name topaz was re-assigned to the stone we call topaz today, and the name peridot was adopted for the stone represented here. Peridot is the gem variety of the mineral forsterite and is most prized when it is a medium-dark green without yellow or brown undertones. In early times, peridot was associated with the sun and was believed to possess medicinal powers. Peridot was used during the Crusades to adorn religious objects. It became popular in jewelry during the late 1800’s. Five continents are represented in this array of peridot gems: the peridot in the necklace is from Arizona; the other peridots are from Egypt, Burma, Pakistan, Antarctica, and Norway.



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