Peridot: Evening Emerald Confusion


It is recorded that many of the green gemstones gracing royal treasuries in the past which were thought to be emeralds were in fact peridots, a confusion rather difficult to comprehend as their colors are decidedly different, but probably attributable to the fact that peridot was long known by poetic license as ‘the evening emerald’. Crusaders brought many peridots back to Europe in the Middle Ages and presented them to local cathedrals as emeralds. The cathedral of Cologne has a wonderful peridot in the shrine of the three kings Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Despite the attempts to glamorize this gem by association with emerald, it now stands on its own merits due to its unique and extremely attractive color, an adequate hardness of 6.5 on Mohs’ scale, an oily and somewhat glassy luster, and a refractive index high enough to make the gem attractively brilliant.

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