These days there seems to be a plethora of birthstones for every month, but peridot is the traditional one for the month of August. Some people still think peridot is the dull olive-green stones we saw so many years ago. The reality is far different. Today there are bright chartreuse greens to apple greens to nearly a deep grass green. These different colors are often associated with different production locations, of which there are 4 major ones.
For many years the Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona has been the major worldwide producer. It is still one of the dominant producers worldwide. This is where you get the bright chartreuse greens to near apple greens. The production volume is quite large, with nearly all being exported to various cutting centers around the world. This peridot does not come in crystal form, but instead is found in what are called "bombs" which are roundish pockets that form in a large basalt flow. The local Apache miners work the face of the basalt flow to expose the pockets of peridot. These pockets can get larger than a softball, and are completely full of peridot. The challenge is most of the peridot inside is "sugary", meaning most is like a coarse sand. Within this coarse sand you find small nodules that are large enough to cut the fine gems from Arizona. The only problem with this story, is most companies do not track the origins of the stones they cut. This means this predominate American gemstone’s origin is often lost. We have cut peridot from many locations around the world, but in my mind, Arizona produces the best gems in the melee to 2.5 ct size stones. Overall it has the strongest, brightest color in these sizes. Some other locations do not hold their color so well as they get into these sizes. We love this material and today this truly American gem is our favorite peridot to cut.
China has also been a big producer for the last 20 years, but production seems to have dropped off there. The smaller sizes get lighter, but it was ideal for the 2.5 to 5 ct sizes. Stones larger than this pretty much come from two locations; Burma and Pakistan. The Burma stones have been very rare for some time, but you will see an occasional 10 to 40 ct gem still coming from this location. These are often a near forest green color, but still recognizable as peridot.
About 20 years ago, Pakistan brought out large fine green peridot crystals that would cut up to 75 ct and larger gems. Many were actually full crystals and they were spectacular. This source also had a distinct color. Still a peridot color, but different. This source was ideal for the 5 carat and larger stones. Pakistan is still producing today in much lower quantities, so for popular ring sizes, the peridot produced here in the US is again the dominant source.
Arizona peridot is what we love for cutting small to 3 carat stones. It gives us great color, availability, and the story of the Southwest US to go with it.