Olivine is a gemstone that is forged from the eruptions of volcanoes. The color of this interesting stone ranges from yellowish green to dark lime-green. The lighter shades of green olivine are the most desired for use in jewelry.
The Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands have some unique, naturally formed swimming areas. There are encrustations of olivine surrounding these swimming holes. These unique pools can be found on a lava shelf that rests along the coastline of Maui. The sandy beaches there are packed with tiny grains of olivine, giving the sand a rather exotic appearance.
In ancient times, the Hawaiians may have believed that the olivine pools were the tears of their goddess and perhaps felt that bathing in them would cure illnesses. Today people come from all over the world to visit and bathe in the olivine pools.
In addition to being discovered in such an exotic port, olivine has also been found on the moon and as far away as the planet Mars. It has also been found traveling on an asteroid called Itokawa and in some small meteorite pieces that managed to survive entry into our atmosphere. The Stardust spacecraft has verified that samples of this gem were found in the tail of a comet.
Olivine in the U.S.
While olivine is still mined to this day on Zabargad Island, it can also be found in places across the US. Peridot Mesa, which is on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, is one area where olivine is found. The stone is mined by the Native Americans there.
There are several locations throughout New Mexico where olivine can be found. There are deposits in the Buell Park area, which is located in McKinley County. There are also deposits in Kilbourne Hole and Potrillo Mar, which are both near the Mexican border. Though there is no commercial production of olivine from any of the sites in New Mexico, they are open to rock-hunters who are interested and wish to gather materials for their own use.
The French word for olivine is peridot. Ancient olivine most likely came from the Red Sea island of St. John.
The first source of olivine was discovered on the Egyptian island Zabargad. The stone became so popular over the years that a Roman historian wrote about it in year 50 AD. At that time, the Egyptians had already been mining it for thousands of years.
The Greeks called the island where the stone was mined “Topazios”. The Romans called olivine the evening emerald because it shone more vividly at night by lamplight. During The Middle Ages, olivine was brought back from Egypt by the Crusaders. It was then that the Europeans began to take an interest in this stone.
Olivine, or peridot, as it is more commonly known, is considered the birthstone for those born in August.
Olivine gemstones have been used for thousands of years. It was believed that this stone brings power, influence, prosperity and happiness to its wearer. It was also used for medicinal purposes and believed to slow the aging process.
Olivine is still just as popular for use in jewelry today as it was in ancient times. It has excellent thermal shock properties and is used in lithium ion batteries.
What to Look For in Olivine Gems
Look for gems where the color is distributed evenly through the entire stone. Vivid lime-green olivine is the most popular color, so it may be the hardest to locate.