Known as the “Gem of the Sun”, the ancient Egyptians are said to have prized peridot. It was believed that the stone had magical properties and could ward off evil spirits. Some historians think that Cleopatra’s infamous emerald collection was actually a collection of peridot.
During the Middle Ages, the crusaders brought peridot from Egypt to Europe. Because peridot represented purity and spiritual clarity, it was used for religious purposes, such as decorating cathedrals.
One of the most famous and valuable medieval artifacts to be graced with peridot is the Reliquary of the Magi in Cologne, Germany. Created in 1811, it contains relics from the three Magi, also known as the three wise men, and is encrusted with more than one thousand gemstones and countless pearls. These gemstones include three large peridots, each weighing more than 200 carats.
If you have ever explored the Big Island at Hawai’i, you may have seen or heard of a place known as “Papakolea Beach” – the green beach. The sand of this beach is a green color, because it is made of tiny olivine (peridot) crystals that have weathered out from the basalt in an ancient volcanic lava flow. It is only one of four green sand beaches in the world.
According to Hawai’ian folklore, Pele is the goddess of the volcano and the peridots at Papakolea Beach are her tears. The peridot is considered to be a gift from Pele for attracting wealth and healing.
Experts have stated that peridot may be one of the world’s oldest gems. According to the Earth scientists at the Natural History Museum in London, the Imilac meteorite is 4.5 million years old and contains olivine material (peridots) from the origin of the universe. It also contains meteoric iron because the Imilac is a type of pallasite meteorite. When this ancient meteorite entered the Earth’s atmosphere long ago, it exploded and scattered pieces across the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. In 1822, these pieces were discovered. It is estimated to have a total weight of 920 kilograms.