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Peridot – Grassy green happiness from outer space

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I’m writing a monthly post about the birthstones for the Etsy Metal team blog and newsletter.  I’ve decided to copy the series here too.  I hope you enjoy!

It’s hard to find a happier little gemstone than peridot.  Peridot is the gemstone-quality form of the mineral olivine, and the birthstone for August.  Late summer could hardly have a better stone.  Whether grassy, limey, or olive green, the color of a fine peridot feels like sitting in the tall summer grass, wearing sandals and sipping margueritas.  Substitute martini if you prefer.

Besides having a happy casual color, olivine is one of the most abundant minerals on earth and is the predominant rock in the upper layer of the earth’s mantle.  Entire beaches in Hawaii are colored green from millions of volcanic peridot crystals that make up the sand.  Even though most olivine isn’t suitable for faceting into gemstones, good quality material is still common enough to make peridot one of the nicest, most affordable natural gemstones around.

Something about the fine grassy green color of peridot has been making people happy for centuries.  The ancients called upon this stone to reduce anxiety, calm spirits, enable good communication, attract love, and release anger and resentment.  They found these powers to be amplified when peridot was set in gold and worn on the left side of the body.  Wedding ring, anyone?

The sunny green gemstone made the Egyptians so happy that they defended their mines on the viper-infested island of Zabargad by immediately sacking all trespassers (and they eventually sacked all of the snakes).  The Crusaders later occupied the island and were so enchanted with the supposed emeralds found there that they carried large quantities back to Europe to decorate cathedrals and shrines.  Many fine peridot gemstones from those times and those mines have survived and can be seen in museums and religious sites today.

Even though this cheerful stone feels like an earthly summer, it’s also found in meteorites, comets, on Mars, and the moon.  In fact, extraterrestrial gemmy peridot may be common enough to outweigh all of the material here on earth, and peridot is the only gemstone from outer space that’s available for your personal adornment.  Even if you choose an earthly specimen, you could find yourself thinking happy green summer thoughts all year round.

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