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Peridot: An Ancient Stone for a Modern World


Peridot, the August birthstone, is one of the oldest known gemstones, with its mining documented as far back as 1500 BC. Many mystical powers are attributed to Peridot throughout the ancient world and into Medieval times. In the ancient world people used to string Peridot on donkey hair and tie it around their left arm to ward off evil spirits. It was also thought that Peridot would fend off anxiety and facilitate good relationships and strong marriages. Perhaps that is why Peridot is the 15th wedding anniversary gemstone.

Peridot was highly prized by the Egyptians who called it the “Gem of the Sun”. The green gem, which gets its color from traces of iron, was mined on the island of Zabargad located in the Egyptian Red Sea, leading some scholars to believe that Cleopatra’s much hailed Emerald collection was actually, you guessed it, Peridot.

According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Peridot is often found in lava flows, which may be why the bright, grassy green stone is said to honor Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of fire and volcanoes. Very rarely, Peridot is found in pallasite meteorites, remnants of our solar system’s birth billions of years ago, that fall to the earth. These Peridot are extremely rare and not likely to be found in a store. Luckily, however, Peridot is mined in a number of places around the world, but it’s mostly found in China, Vietnam, Finland, Pakistan, Myanmar and even the U.S.

“An amazing Peridot came to me to be set as a pendant,” says Naomi Sarna, of the Peridot that is the centerpiece of the Green Genie pendant that she created with the stone. “The gem is 178.50 carats with magnificent color. I’d never seen a Peridot with color that deep or rich. In some light it looks like a green laser.”

Sarna admits that when she first saw the stone, the cutting style was so unusual that she was stopped in her tracks. She knew that a traditional setting for this Peridot wasn’t going to work. She consulted with the client who had given her the Peridot and they agreed that Sarna could set the stone in the way her creativity directed. Once she was free to create as she chose, the design came together. “Almost overnight I made the setting,” Sarna recounts.

The faceting on the stone gave it an ancient feeling that resonated with Sarna. “The Peridot’s faceting is reminiscent of the way stones would have been faceted before cutters had a clear understanding of ideal angles. It has an ancient, antique feel to it. Because of its unusual color, shape and size, I saw it as a precious holy object held in a medieval treasury.”

Looking at the stone, Sarna was reminded of the Arabian Nights and the magical genies that were in many of the tales. As a tribute to those stories she named the Peridot, Green Genie. Once the Peridot was named, the design really came together. “I made a treasure reliquary for it, a gem embellished treasure box with hinges and a catch.”

Green Genie is both an objet d’art and a wearable piece of Peridot jewelry. “It’s like a badge or medallion that the head of an ancient secret society might wear,” comments Sarna, who adorned the piece with white and colored diamonds, sapphires, garnets and amethyst set in warm 18-karat gold which gives the piece an enchanted, talismanic feeling. Historically, Peridot was set in gold to amplify its healing and mystical powers. “The stone sits on a blackened sterling silver base with secret hidden gems. It can be removed and held.”

A one-of-a-kind piece of art, Green Genie embodies the treasures from the tales of the Arabian Nights that inspired its creation. “It’s extremely rare to find a Peridot of this quality and size,” concludes Sarna.

By Amber Michelle

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