Most women know the 4C's of diamond buying (cut, colour, clarity, carat), but choosing coloured stones is a different story. Life in a stone is everything, and without the specific guidelines of cutting grade, the charisma is in the eye of the beholder.
For a great short tutorial on buying coloured stones, see "How to buy a gemstone in 7 simplified steps" from the Gemological Institute of America.
Peridot, the gem form of olivine, is a stunning example of a lower-priced coloured stone that provides beauty for much less than the "big four" glamour gems (diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald). Choose earrings or a pendant for everyday wear, or set peridot in a bezel setting in a ring rather than in prongs, because it's on the softer side, with a Mohs scale rating of 6.5.
Left, Elizabeth Locke peridot earring, from Trocadero.
These gemstones are of exceptional quality; the price, $2, 200 reflects Locke's reputation. The drops are detachable, the setting is 19k gold.
But peridot is a very accessibly-priced stone.
In the middle of the 1990s, stores of intense "Kashmir Peridot" were found in Pakistan. Peridot is also found in China, Africa, Australian and, in a more yellowish and brownish variety, in the U.S. The vibrant pistachio green of best stones make it ideal for summer wear, which might explain its position as the birthstone for August. Fine peridot has the colour of a new leaf, with just a hint of yellow, and life in the stone. Some inclusions are fine.
Shopping for peridots
I always have my eye out for nice peridots, not that easy to find. Ask your jeweler to source some, or check vintage jewelery stores.
Top, a peridot flower ring set in 14k gold, $225 from Ruby Lane seller Barnsley Collection, and bottom, an Edwardian peridot and blue topaz lavalier, $325 from Ruby Lane seller Exceptional Vintage.
Ethnic stores that sell goods from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India are promising places to scout. Small peridot beads are reasonable, and look good massed; avoid muddy, too-pale pastel stones. Bead stores sometimes carry nice peridot beads, which you can have strung as you like.
On the net
This interesting scarf necklace, which you could tie various ways, is from Novica seller Matta, on sale for $296.
This essence-of-green necklace on eBay, from seller rajasthan jewellery for a BIN price of $120, would be a stunning accent against a summer blouse.
Blue Nile carry these opulent 7mm 18k white gold-set studs.
A most reasonable $100, backed by their guarantee, delivered in two days; don't think you can go wrong here! You might put bigger backs or discs on them so they hold neatly to your ear.
Though sometimes known as "the poor man's emerald", peridot differs from fine emeralds, which are more a saturated hue and often bluer, but they do resemble very pale emeralds. And make no apologies; enjoy peridot on its own luminous merits.