GemSelect Newsletter - Peridot, The Gem from Outer Space!
Peridot is a beautiful, colorful, quite brilliant gemstone and it is also quite a special gem.
An amazing fact about peridot is that it is also a gemstone from outer space! It has been found in meteorites that have fallen to Earth from deep space.
Indeed, peridot has further extraterrestrial properties. Apart from the fact that it has been found in meteorites, it has also been found (in its basic form called olivine) on Mars and the moon.
Rocky outcrops of the mineral were spotted by a space craft orbiting Mars. It was pictured on Mars in a 30,000 square km area in a long shallow depression known as Nili Fossae.
It is thought that the region was formed about 3.6 billion years ago when an asteroid crashed into it, leaving a crater called the Isidis Basin and exposing the peridot. The mineral was detected by an instrument on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor.
Further discoveries in outer space were made on a comet called Tempel1 (which orbits the sun every five and a half years) A deliberate impact was orchestrated with the comet on 4th July 2005, and subsequent readings in the impact crater found traces of the mineral.
The previous year, on January 2nd 2004, samples had been taken from another comet known as Wild2, which is 4.5 billion years old. A NASA spaceship called Stardust took samples which were studied back on Earth and again included olivine.
So, if you are in possession of a peridot gemstone, you have quite a tale to tell about where it has been found.
Apart from being a gemstone that travels in outer space, peridot is also one of only 2 gems formed deep in the mantle of planet Earth, only thrown up to the surface during volcanic eruptions or massive earthquakes.
It makes sense then that for thousands of years the volcanic island of Zabargad in the Red Sea, east of Egypt, was the most important deposit of peridot. Lots of volcanic eruptions led to lots of peridot deposits.
In 1994, peridot was discovered in Pakistan, high up in the Himalayan Mountains of Kashmir.
The peridot found at these heights was pushed to the surface not from a volcanic eruption, but a huge earthquake. The Indian tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian plate. This must have been quite an event and is illustrated by the fact that the top of Mount Everest (part of the Himalayan mountain range) is made of marine limestone.
So, when you consider what it takes to produce peridot deposits, it really should be appreciated a lot more.
Peridot has an ancient history and has been used as jewelry for thousands of years. The ancient Romans called it "evening emerald", since its color did not darken at night but could still be appreciated by candlelight and the light of a campfire.
Peridot was also brought back to Europe by the Crusaders and was often used to decorate medieval churches. It seems impossible for the Crusaders to have known that peridot was found in outer space.
Is it coincidence or fate that a gemstone from a celestial body, Mars, was used to worship a celestial being?
It is possible that ancient man found peridot in meteorites that crashed to Earth long ago. So the extraterrestrial properties of peridot may well have been known to our ancestors. After all, peridot was widely used even before the days of ancient Egypt.
Maybe the fact that peridot can crash to Earth from the heavens had a spiritual significance for our ancestors.
Whether it is found on comets billions of years old, traveling through the universe at tremendous speeds, on distant planets or spewed out of erupting volcanoes, it is certainly true that peridot is a special and exciting gemstone.
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Happy Gem Hunting!
Your friends at GemSelect
- First Published: February-01-2012
- Last Updated: July-10-2017
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