Birthstones & Gemstones: Peridot in Space

Think your August birthstone, peridot, is out of this world? You’re right! With the full eclipse of the sun coming up on August 21, it seems timely to talk about peridots in space.

ABOVE: 14K yellow gold ring set with 14.02 cts Esquel Pallasite meteorite from Argentina, accented with 20 round diamonds, .10ct tw. Photo courtesy Mike Ferber, Ferber’s Unique Fine Jewelry. https://www.ferbers.com/esquel-pallasite-gold-ring-2004.html

Birthstones & Gemstones: Peridots in Space

Labeled “Cosmic Fountain of Crystal Rain,” the image of peridot crystals falling into a birthing star captured researchers’ imagination at Caltech. In the first image, the arrow points to the location of the new star. The next two artist’s illustrations show the gasses of the star exploding the olivine into the clouds, and the crystal rain. Image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Peridot belongs to the mineral family olivine, and olivine is found not only in volcanic sands in Hawaii, but in meteorites called pallasites. I’ve been fascinated by the meteorite jewelry on the market today because of its exotic origin. But pallasites, which are often cut into thin sections to allow light to pass through the olivine bits, are in a class by themselves. The Gibeon meteorites are worked like the metal they are, but a pallasite comes already “set” in a sense, with the stone wrapped in metal even before it’s been put into a gold mounting.

It’s impossible to look at a pallasite like the one in this ring by Ferber’s Unique Fine Jewelry in Flowood, Mississippi, and not be mesmerized by its history, its formation in a world so completely hostile to human beings. Yet now it’s possible to hold it—or wear it—in hand.

These stony-iron meteorites are thought to have come from the mantle of a planet that once orbited between Mars and Jupiter. It’s not known what happened to it, but any fan of Star Trek can imagine. And then, in 2011 researchers using the Spitzer infrared telescope at Caltech discovered crystals of olivine raining down into an embryonic star far away in the constellation of Orion.

Gemstones raining down.

Yeah. The thought caught the researchers’ imaginations, too. They explained that the gasses near the surface of the burgeoning star were hot enough to cook up the nascent olivine, then shoot it up into the clouds where it “ultimately fell down again like glitter,” said one of the researchers, Tom Megeath. Although the environment around the new star would be “very dark,” said another of the researchers, Charles Poteet, “tiny crystals might catch whatever light is present, resulting in a green sparkle against a black, dusty backdrop.”

Wow. Put that on your hand and wear it.

Be sure to read all the other posts in this 5 part series:
Peridot — Just the Facts

Peridot — History and Lore

Designing with Peridot

Peridot of the American Southwest


Sharon Elaine Thompson is a GG and FGA who has been writing on gemstone and jewelry topics for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 1987. She also writes a line of Birthstone Romances under the name Liz Hartley.


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