How Is Peridot Mined?
Peridot is a gem that is of a yellowish-green color. Peridot was used in early Egypt as far back as 2,000 B.C.E. Pharaohs and leaders, including Cleopatra, heavily used peridot to adorn their robes and goblets, believing that peridot had magical powers. The color of the gem tends to remain the same, even under artificial light. Although it doesn’t change color, the depth of the hue in peridot gems is dependent upon the amount of iron inside it.
As with any jewel, mining peridot starts with finding its ideal location. Most peridot is found in layers of volcanic ash or molten rock. Peridot can be found in a handful of countries in the world. Brazil, Hawaii, Greece and Myanmar all have peridot deposits. One of the earliest Peridot discoveries dates back to ancient Egypt on a coastal island once called St. John's (now Zeberget) in the Red Sea. Peridot can even be found in Arizona--in a town named Peridot. The latest discovery, according to the Gemstone Organization website, was in Pakistan in 1993. The peridot fields there have seized gems as large as 300 carats.
Mining inside the Arizona deposits takes place by hand, according to the American Gem Traders Association Website. The Apache tribesmen utilize basic tools like crowbars, hammers and coffee cans to retrieve peridot. Peridot used to take place at night, since the richness of its color can be illuminated by the moonlight. However, this was very dangerous to do on the Zeberget locations because the island used to be infested with snakes. Peridot can be mined from underground deposits. Explosives can be used to get near the peridot but not beyond initial access because peridot grows in crystal layers.
Timing is also a critical factor in mining peridot. For the Pakistani location, you would have to climb 15,000 feet into the Western Himalayas to reach the gems. It is only warm enough to reach that location for three months out of the year, provided that you get permission from the local government to mine. Countries like Myanmar and Pakistan have also been subject to political unrest. Depending on the ruling government, peridot could either be freely mined by tourists, sold only by locals for low prices or stockpiled for years in order to increase value and rarity.