Peridot Buying Guide
By Richard W. Hughes

Peridot is one of the prettiest of all green gems, occurring in a color that is the epitome of grass green. Interestingly enough, the name topaz may have initially been applied to peridot, for it is found on the island of Topazos (Zabargad) in the Red Sea.
The name peridot is used to describe the gem variety of the forsterite to fayalite olivine series.

Cut & Rough Peridot photo image
Two magnificent examples of peridot. The cut stone at left is an incredible 172.53 cts. Thee crystal at right is equally rare. Both are from Pakistan. Stone: Pala International; crystal: William Larson collection. Photo: Jeff Scovil

Peridot is ideochromatic, being colored by the ferrous iron that is basic to its composition. The ideal color is a rich grass-green, but some peridot is yellowish green, greenish yellow or brown. The best colors of peridot generally contain about 10–15% of iron.

Peridot is not as light dependent as red and blue gems. It tends to look good under all lights.

Two Periodots photo image
Two different peridots, illustrating the importance of clarity. The stone at left is heavily included, while that at right has far better clarity. Photo: Robert Weldon

Since peridot is not a particularly expensive stone, eye-clean clarity is the standard. Burmese gems are often marred by small platelet inclusions, which may give some stones a sleepy appearance. The strong birefringence (0.036) of peridot can also give stones a slightly sleepy look. This is most pronounced in large stones (10 cts. plus).

Only imagination limits the cuts and shapes applied to peridot, with everything from stunning fantasy cuts to tumbled beads being seen. Again, because it is not terribly expensive, cutters can focus on beauty more than weight retention. This means that good cutting, proportions and symmetry are to be expected. Stay away from misshapen native cut gems, unless they are cheap enough to recut to good proportions.

Peridot Miner & Mine photo image
No OSHA in Burma. A peridot miner at Pyaung Gaung, in Burma’s Mogok Stone Tract.
Photo: Richard Hughes

Peridot ranges in price from about $50–80/ct. for well-cut gems in the 1–2 ct. size, up to as much as $400–450 ct. for large fine gems of top color.

Stone Sizes
Peridot is common in sizes ranging from melee to faceted stones of 10 cts. or more. Fine faceted stones of greater than 300 carats are known, but quite rare.

Gem peridot has been found in a handful of places around the world. In large sizes (10 cts. plus), Pyaung Gaung in Burma’s Mogok Stone Tract is most important. Faceted gems of hundreds of carats are known from this deposit. In the 1990’s, a new deposit from Pakistan’s Suppatt region was discovered, and this material is every bit the equal of that from Burma.
In the US, the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation supplies good material, but this rarely cuts gems above 10 cts. Peridot is also mined in China, Brazil, Australia and Norway, among other places. The historic deposit of Zabargad has not produced at all in decades.

Peridot is not typically enhanced.

Rough Peridot photo image
Rough peridot at Pyaung Gaung, Burma. Photo: Richard Hughes

Peridot has never been synthesized, but a number of imitations exist, including natural stones such as tourmaline, and man-made imitations such as glass. Green glass is the most common imitation, and can be easily separated by its single refraction.

Properties of Peridot

Composition Peridot is the gem variety of the olivine group, which has the following species:
Forsterite – Mg2SiO4
Fayalite – Fe2SiO4
Hardness (Mohs) 6.5 to 7
Cleavage Imperfect to distinct in one direction (rarely seen)
Specific Gravity 3.34 + 0.17, – 0.07
Refractive Index 1.654–1.690 (±0.020)
Birefringence 0.035 to 0.038
Optic Character Biaxial (positive or negative; the beta index is usually near halfway between alpha and gamma)
Crystal System Orthorhombic; usually occurs as rounded pebbles; well formed crystals are quite rare
Colors Mainly green; sometimes yellow or brown
Pleochroism Weak to moderate, dichroic
UV Fluorescence Generally inert
Dispersion 0.020
Phenomena Cat’s eye and star peridot are known, but are rare
Handling Ultrasonic: not safe; never clean peridot ultrasonically
Steamer: not safe
The best way to care for peridot is to clean it with warm, soapy water. Avoid exposure to heat, acids and rapid temperature changes
Enhancements Peridot is not typically enhanced
Synthetic available? No

Further Reading:

The Collector Gem Buying Guides

In addition to the above, please visit the Learning Vault at for many additional articles on gems, minerals and mining.

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