Gems: Peridots for St. Paddy's

A disrupted St. Patrick's Day, for sure, with cancellations and closures— as we do all we can to halt the spread of the virus. I'm thinking of  you and hope you stay well, cope with the restrictions and draw on reserves of compassion and goodwill.

Friends and readers ask what gemstone is a good buy. That depends on many factors, but one I often mention is peridot. Peridot wears well, especially in earrings or a necklace, and the price means you can buy top-quality, unlike trying to stretch your budget for, say, a sapphire.

There is a shade—from olive to leaf—that will suit warm or cool skin tones; I've dressed today's windows  for St. Patrick's Day, so, a bit of the wearin' o' the green.

What's your name, colleen?

You will hear both pronunciations: pear-ih-doe and pear-ih-dot; the latter is the Merriam-Webster one, but no one is going to be bothered if you go with "doe". Peridot is the gem variety of olivine (which is actually two minerals), and is not typically heat-treated. (Gems whose colours cannot be modified by heat treatment are called idiochromatic.)

Choose depth of colour and life in the stone; think of the fresh green of budding leaves or young green olives. Pale-green peridot is pretty too, especially on blondes, but if too light, lacks presence.

These rough-cut 7-8mm peridot studs by Margoni are super-wearable; the stones are bezelled in 18k gold, the rest of the setting is silver. Price, £270 from Tomfoolery, London; made to order.

Some peridots contain inclusions, and I like that, provided the colour and clarity of the host peridot is very good. Perfectly illustrated by this olive-hued 9mm drop pendant on espresso nylon cord, by Margaret Solow; price, $US 165 at Twistonline.

I would really like a strand of peridot beads; they are perfect if you like to wear deeper colours in spring and summer, but they also enliven a white shirt.

For gem beads, I scout Etsy, noting reviews and assessing other work by the same seller. Leipzig maker schmuckwerkshop appeals. Look at the clasps; these are good ones. I

Two necklaces interest me: one has the detail of gold-plated rondelles, the other shows how high-grade peridot sparkles given a faceted cut.

Top left and right:  43cm/17-inch necklace of 2mm disc peridot beads and gold-plated rondelles, $CDN 175.
Bottom left and right: 17-inch necklace of faceted 3mm peridots, especially lively; price, $CDN 273.

That's seriously gemmy beauty for a reasonable price. These are smal beads that would layer beautifully but have enough interest to stand on their own.

Antique and vintage peridot

Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco pieces often use peridot, sometimes mixed with amethyst, citrine, or garnet. When buying an antique piece, ask the jeweller about the polish. (A periodot can be repolished unless there are evident inclusions or fissures that could weaken the stone.)

This dragonfly bar pin of peridot, seed pearls and 9ct yellow gold, ca. 1925, is a treasure. I love its grace. At $US 1, 950 (on FirstDibs) it is not a trifling purchase, but one might view it as an heirloom. (Many FirstDibs sellers are open to offers,)

Old meets new

I like to end gemstone posts with a special piece; today's is not at the 'high jewellery' price point, but a standout.

Contemporary mismatched earrings of two tones of peridot, olive and bright green, in an 18k recycled gold setting inspired by Victorian watch fob chains. They are a wearable 1 1/2 inches long, by Lori Kaplan Jewelry; price, $US 1, 600.

Peridot (along with spinel) is the birthstone for August, but anyone can claim a patch of green and wear this marvellous stone!


Laura J said…
Pearls and peridot my favourite; oh and emeralds and black diamonds...but not all together!
Laura J said…
I tootled around looking for necklaces with largish stones but are peridots hard to find in larger stones? Just curious
Duchesse said…
Lauras J: Yes, large peridots of good quality (and you would not like one of only fair quality given your own!) are expensive because they are rare. Once you get a above 10mmx8mm, prices go way up. For example, here is a 9.24ct ring for an idea:

Laura J said…
Right, well I think that’s off the list! Peridots are such a cheerful colours
fmcgmccllc said…
This is a stone I do not own. I just do not like the color, or have never seen one I like. I had a pendant necklace with a nice sized round peridot made for my mother-in-law, it is her birthstone.
Duchesse said…
fmcgmcclic: It's true that we have a dislike of some stones and often a clue is that you would not wear the colour as a textile. Other times, it is an association with a person or a cultural reference, such as when jet indicated mourning.
LauraH said…
Waiting in San Francisco, for 10 hours, to catch a midnight flight as I make my way home from New Zealand, I was so happy and excited to see a post on my favourite peridots. What a pick-me-up! The perfect idea for spring, so fresh and lively. Thank you thank you.
Well, I was born in May, so my birthstone is emerald, which I couldn't possibly afford except in nasty little chunks. I love green (also love red, not necessarily together) so I'll look into them.

Pink as the expression of silly femininity is also a cultural reference; struggling to look at pink outside that framework.

By the way, I used a bit of my original crème Eucerin, very rich but hard to work into the skin. It seems to have counteracted the horrible chafing overwashing has caused.

Lee Valley has lovely soft hand and fingernail brushes. Hope you, le Duc and family are all doing well.
Jay said…
I have the beads (some nice moonstones and carnelians) and stringing material and now the enforced leisure, maybe I will try to create a bracelet
Duchesse said…
lagatta: There are fine, very small emeralds, 2mm-3mm, bright as headlight. You can see them from across a room. If you really wanted one or more, they are definitely within reach. Ask about those @ Pilar Agueci, right in the neighbourhood. She will probably put some of those small ems on her site in May.

Jay: Good use of time! Send a photo if you are willing, when it's finished... I love both of those stones.
Yes, Pilar does beautiful work!
Jane said…
Loved this post. If I was to choose one item it would be the pendant. The earring in the last photo reminds me of a little spring leaf. More posts like this one on semi-precious stones. And, Jay, I think I'll dig out my old stash of beads and see what I have. -Lily
I also love these garnet drop earrings:
Jules said…

Hope you and all your readers are keeping well. Thank you for this post on the peridot-it is one of my favorites and also my son's birthstone. I am a resident of the Southwest US and peridot is mined here so very easy to find.

I have purchased all of my pieces, large and small and not wildly expensive, from Native American craftsmen in the Governor's Palace on the Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Perhaps when travel is possible again some of your lovely friends can check there. I like to deal with the actual creator of the piece and learn more about the inspiration behind the items I buy.

Keep smiling-this too shall pass.
Duchesse said…
Jules: I by far prefer to deal with the actual maker, and here I show work by individual artists or small collectives; occasionally I showa piece by a well-known house such as Cartier as an example.

I do not put branded pieces like you'd buy at Neiman Marcus, for example, in the windows. Some of it is pretty but there is no person attached.

Since the pandemic hit I have had personal e-mail from women who say they supporting such artists, among other artisans and independent workers.
Yes, life is also extremely difficult for restaurant, pub and other hospitality workers (in hotels, some have a modicum of union protection) as well as those of us in the creative professions. Not happy about ageing, but relieved to have a bit of a public pension. Working today, online of course, for a Belgian NGO.

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