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Peridot is a gem-quality variety of the mineral olivine. It belongs to the forsterite-fayalite mineral series. Some even refer to peridot as 'olivine', but when it comes to the gemstone, 'peridot' is the correct term. Peridot is an idiochromatic gem, meaning its color comes from the basic chemical composition of the mineral itself and not from minor traces of impurities. Thus, peridot is found only in green. In fact, peridot is one of the few gemstones available that can be found only in one color, although the shades of green may vary from light yellowish to dark brownish-green.
The name 'peridot' was derived from the Arabic word for gem - 'faridat'. It is sometimes referred to as 'the poor man's emerald' or as 'chrysolite', a word derived from the Greek word 'goldstone'. It is one of the oldest known gemstones, with records dating back as early as 1500 B.C. Historically, the volcanic island of Zabargad (St. John) in the Red Sea, east of Egypt, had the most important deposit that was exploited for over 3500 years. Today, the finest quality peridot comes from Mogok in Burma, although Pakistani peridot is now highly regarded as well. There are other very important deposits found in Arizona, China and Vietnam. Peridot has also been discovered in fallen meteors and it has also been discovered on Mars and the moon in olivine form.