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Peridot is one of two known gems that form deep beneath the Earth’s crust, all the way down near the mantle, and is mostly brought up to the Earth’s surface through seismic and volcanic activity. Early on, this gem was mined from an offshore island in the Red Sea – the ancient Egyptians named it Topazo Island but it is known as St John's Island today.
Called “the gem of the sun” by ancient Egyptians, it is widely speculated by historians that the famed green jewels worn by Queen Cleopatra were in fact peridot instead of emeralds. The stone was so highly sought after by the Egyptians that they would force workers to mine the gem from early morning until long into the night. It is believed that this practice of harvesting at night was most likely because Topazo Island was crawling with deadly snakes, and these snakes appeared much lesser during the night. Peridot is also known as the “Evening Emerald” as it glows brilliantly under the moonlight; however, it looks pale under bright sunlight, making it difficult to find.
In medieval Europe, peridot was only acquired during the Crusades and were prized to the extent that these gems were used in many holy artefacts. In fact, the green gems that adorn The Shrine of the Three Kings in Germany were thought to be emerald stones until modern experts properly identified them as peridot hundreds of years later. Many biblical scholars believe that the stones referred to as chrysolite were in reality peridot gems, leading to the speculation that Moses’s brother Aaron actually wore peridot in his breastplate of judgement.
Even though peridot has often been misidentified and had remained relatively obscure until the twentieth century, legends still revolve around the gem about its metaphysical powers, especially in its ability to ward off evil spirits. In modern day, the peridot is believed to help its wearers have a deeper and more restful sleep, and, in turn, help to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Peridot is also thought to help open the heart when it comes to relationships, as it helps to attract new positive relationships while nurturing and strengthening the bonds of existing relationships.