Gemstone History and Properties
Few gemstones possess as unique a color as the lime-green Peridot, a rare gem variety of the mineral Olivine which is distinguished by an orthorhombic crystal system and the chemical formula (Mg, Fe)2SiO4. The Peridot is a relatively soft stone at 6.5 on the Mohs scale, and is rather susceptible to strong chemicals. While most gemstones come in a variety of colors, the Peridot is found exclusively in the yellow-green to green range, giving it a very distinct and recognizable appearance.
Just like the afghan Lapis Lazuli, the Peridot had only one major source in antiquity – Zabargad Island. This Egyptian island on the red sea is also known as St. Johns Island in English, yet for the ancient Greeks it was known as Topazios due to the ‘Topaz’ (Peridot) deposits which were mined there. In fact, the Topaz and Pit’dah mentioned in the bible as the second stone in the breastplate of the high priest are none other than the stone known as Peridot today. This confusion with the Peridot’s name goes even further, as the famous Egyptian ‘Emeralds’ prized by Cleopatra and the Romans were in fact also Peridots. And if that wasn’t enough, the Peridot was called an Emerald again, or more specifically ‘Evening Emerald’, from the 19th centuries onwards due to its bright glow under artificial light.
Legendary properties and historical uses
The Peridot was available in the west through trade with Egypt since at least the biblical times, and spread to the east when sources were discovered in Afghanistan at the time of the Persian Empire. But even with such history behind it, there is much confusion about the lore and uses of the Peridot due to the plethora of names it received.
In the Mediterranean region, the Peridot was often associated with fertility and plenty as its color looked very similar to fresh green olives the most important commercial crop of antiquity. This association made it extremely popular as a talisman among traders and merchants, which believed it to bring financial prosperity and business success. This belief actually survives to this day, although the gemstone most often used is Citrine which together with Smokey Quartz replaced Peridots as the ‘Topaz’ during the Middle Ages.
While its ability to retain its glow under candle and incandescent light associated it with the night since Victorian times, in the Middle Ages it was believed that only the Sun’s rays could charge the Peridot and make it reveal its powers. Medicinally, it was believed that the Peridot could help cure asthma, insomnia and depression, improve the cognitive abilities of its owner and even cure insanity. These properties were ascribed both to talismans containing the stone as well as to potions containing the stone in powdered form.
The stone according to Hindu belief
In Hindu belief certain gemstones are connected to certain planetary deities, and these gemstones are able to transmit the energies associated with these deities to a person wearing them, allowing him to enjoy the benefits of those energies in the process.
According to Hindu belief, the Peridot is a representation of the energy of Mercury, the god Budha, on earth. The god Budha, who physically manifests as the planet Mercury, and is considered to be the young Prince of the Hindu pantheon and the god of speech, communication and information. Please note that despite the similarity in their names, there is no direct connection to the Buddha of Buddhism. For more information about Mercury please visit “Mercury-Nabu-Hama-Budha – Prince of the planets”
According to vedic astrology, a Peridot is suitable for a person if Mercury is well positioned in his natal chart, and is especially recommend if its placement is weak as that is an indicator for speech and memory problems. If Mercury’s position is harmful however, the use of Peridots is considered dangerous and is highly discouraged.
Among the properties ascribed to a Peridot when it suits a person, are the ability to significantly improve memory and concentration, along with language and communication skills. In addition, it is said that Emeralds can help with balancing emotions, slowing down the aging process and curing diseases.
If however the Peridot proves unsuitable it is said to cause speech problems and confusion, memory problems and even various diseases.
According to Hindu belief, if one wishes to gain the blessing of Mercury, he should wear a high quality, eye clean Peridot that is set in jewelry made of one of the following metals: gold, multiple metals alloy or brass. The jewelry has to be made in such a way that the stone will be in contact with the skin, hence earrings are unsuitable. If the stone is set in a ring, the ring must be worn on the little finger of the right hand for right handed people or the left for left handed people and women.
Before wearing such a talisman for the first time, it must be washed in fresh milk and afterwards washed again in Ganges water (or any other holy water). The talisman must be worn for the first time on a Wednesday falling close to the full moon, in the first hour after sunrise.