Olivine (Peridot)

Category  :  Mineral
Hardness  :  6.5-7
Gravity  :  3.2-4.3
Reflection  :  1.69 / 1.65
Color  :  Yellow, to yellow-green, olive-green, to brownish
Chemical formula  :  (Mg, Fe)2SiO4
Crystal system  :  Orthorhombic
Major varieties  :  Peridot, Olivine, Or Chrysolite

Olivine, of which peridot is a type, is a common mineral in mafic and ultramafic rocks, and it is often found in lavas and in peridotite xenoliths of the mantle, which lavas carry to the surface; but gem quality peridot only occurs in a fraction of these settings.

Peridot olivine is mined in North Carolina, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, and New Mexico, in the US; and in Australia, Brazil, China, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. High quality peridot olivine is mined in the eastern lava fields of Saudi Arabia. However the best quality gems are considered to come from Pakistan and most other Peridot is now mined by Native Americans in the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona.

In much antique jewelry, peridot could have come from Egypt: in the late 18th/early 19th century, peridot was taken from Egyptian ecclestial and other ornaments and reused in jewelry. Furthermore a location in Egypt was (re-) discovered but its location remains unknown.

The largest cut peridot olivine is a 310 carat (62 g) specimen in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C..


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