Peridot has an ancient history and has been used for jewelry for thousands of years. It is a gemstone with a fascinating history, both in nature and culture. The ancient Romans called it ‘evening emerald’ since its color did not darken at night, but could still be appreciated by candlelight and the light of a campfire. It is a gem especially connected with ancient Egypt, and some historians believe that the famous emeralds of Cleopatra were actually peridot gems. Peridot was also brought back to Europe by the Crusaders and was often used to decorate medieval churches.
Peridot is mentioned in the Bible under the Hebrew name of ‘pitdah’. Peridot gems along with other gems were probably used in the fabled breastplates of the Jewish high priests, artifacts that have never been found. Legend has it that peridot was the favorite gemstone of Cleopatra. Crusaders brought peridot to Central Europe where it was found in many medieval churches such as the Cologne Cathedral. In the Baroque era, peridot experienced another short period of popularity, before it was forgotten again. Napoleon used peridot to assure Josephine of his undying love and admiration, which of course happened before he had their marriage annulled.