Rocks On: What Keeps Peridot Popular

SourcingMay 24, 2016

Rocks On: What Keeps Peridot Popular

While the larger, finer pieces of peridot are becoming more expensive, the price for this yellow-green gemstone remains relatively stable overall, helping spur demand.

While the larger, finer pieces of peridot are becoming more expensive, the price for this yellow-green gemstone remains relatively stable overall. (Photo credit: Gem 2000)

New York--Peridot has come to be something of a staple gem. Its popularity started with mining in ancient times and continues today as the birthstone for August. Add to this a historically strong supply and generally stable pricing and it creates a gem that’s positioned to be around for the long haul.

These days, there is peridot rough coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also Burma, China, Africa and Arizona.

Peridot also can have an extraterrestrial source, albeit rarely, according to the Gemological Institute of America’s Gem Encyclopedia, which notes that some meteorites that have fallen to Earth contain peridot.

One of the few challenges that come up when talking about peridot’s supply side is a shortage of larger pieces.

Malak Atut, the designer behind the Zaiken jewelry brand, said she has noticed that larger material is a bit harder to find, and “it’s certainly at a higher price point.” Despite the possibility of increasing cost, she expects demand for the larger stones to continue as collectors and connoisseurs always are looking for rare gems.

Kimberly Collins, of Kimberly Collins Colored Gems, echoed the sentiment about larger, finer goods being hard to find; she said she used to see a lot of material from Burma and Pakistan on the market but that supply has diminished significantly.

When it comes to peridot rough from Arizona, supply always has been an issue, according to Rich Barker of Barker & Co.

“The inability to get blasting and the spotty availability of heavy equipment slow down production,” he told National Jeweler. “Additionally, the extreme summer heat and the number of diggers who do wildland firefighting during the summer really deplete the labor pool.”

Supply increased in the first quarter of 2016, he said, but noted that it likely will slow down again soon as the temperatures in the desert state start creeping toward 100 degrees.

With its ancient beginnings and modern positioning as a birthstone, peridot has perpetually been a sought-after gemstone. Demand for faceted Arizona peridot always has been strong, Barker noted, with its beautiful green color and despite its inclusions.

The demand for Arizona rough, however, is a different story; buying for that has been “dead” for the last three to four years. Before that, sales to India were quite strong, and Barker and Co. was able to sell all the material it could produce, he said.

However, within

the past six months, demand for the material has started to pick up again.

“Production is the only limiting factor in how much we have been able to sell,” he said, which is due to the factors noted above: weather, labor and equipment.
“There are several of us who have been saying ‘There’s no such thing as semi-precious,’ which is typically where peridot would be. With the rise in awareness and variety of the stone, I foresee that more people will dive into the peridot cool green, and the trend of mixing various non-traditional types of material together also bodes well for the inclusion of peridot in higher-end jewelry.”--Malak Atut, Zaiken
From a designer’s perspective, Atut said there are people who are “hardcore peridot lovers” who really enjoy the stone and want multiple pieces featuring it. “I think that it’s a beautiful hue that emits great light, especially once set in yellow gold,” Atut said. “It’s very flattering.”

She added that the rise of the social media channels that offer visual appeal, such as Instagram and Pinterest, have opened people’s eyes and imaginations to stones that they might not have considered before, as they see more examples of the stones set in modern jewelry.

Atut said it’s common for her to hear from someone that they never imagined a particular colored gemstone--not even just peridot--could be so beautiful and varied when they see it in its finest form.

“I think that has a lot to do with the ease of search and discovery through the visual (social) platforms,” today, she said.

Barker said prices for rough peridot have been stable, lending to the constant demand for the stone, as have prices for faceted stones, particularly medium and calibrated sizes.

Large AA-grade faceted stones, meanwhile, have increased in price “rather dramatically,” he said, as they are very rare and demand has increased greatly.

Atut agreed that overall, when taking into account all sizes, peridot prices have remained fairly stable overall.

This is a real boon for the yellow-green gemstone, providing stability in a market that often can be unpredictable.

“You get a lot of bang for the buck,” Collins said, who added that peridot is a constant seller for her.

“Peridot has a long history; I do not see that changing.”

Industry trends
One of the trends that Barker sees driving the demand for Arizona peridot is the increasing desirability and demand for gems mined in America.

“We have had lots of inquiries for American goods, which we really welcome,” he said.

He said if anything, he expects peridot demand and pricing to remain stable, if not increase a bit, in the future. As a birthstone with a historically strong availability, it likely will remain a top performer.

What’s more, the same online visual discovery that’s bringing consumers to love peridot in a new way could also be giving designers a chance to see the stone in a new light, Atut said.

“There are several of us who have been saying ‘There’s no such thing as semi-precious,’ which is typically where peridot would be,” she said. “With the rise in awareness and variety of the stone, I foresee that more people will dive into the peridot cool green, and the trend of mixing various non-traditional types of material together also bodes well for the inclusion of peridot in higher- end jewelry.”

She added that the trend of mixing multiple shades of one color will continue, which positions peridot perfectly to pair with gemstones such as emeralds as well as demantoid and tsavorite garnets.

A few trends that peridot also lends itself well to, Collins said, are big dangle earrings and cocktail rings, as the stone can provide a very large look and color without the price of emeralds or tsavorite garnet of the same size.

And yet, peridot has gotten something of bad rap, she said. “There is a lot of commercial-grade peridot out there and a lot of August babies don’t like it because it looks like pea soup.”

As a designer, Collins focuses on the vivid, bright pieces of peridot, and said when retailers buy the best the stone has to offer and put it in their showcases, “peridot sells itself.”
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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