Olivine vs Peridot: What Are They, And What’s The Difference?

Olivine and peridot are uniquely intertwined, and they can often be a point of confusion for some stone enthusiasts.

However, understanding these stones doesn’t have to be difficult. Here is everything that you need to know about olivine vs peridot. 

Olivine vs Peridot (EXPLAINED)

What is Olivine? 

Olivine is the name given to a group of minerals that contribute to rock formation.

They are usually found in igneous rocks such as peridotite, gabbro, dunite, diabase, and basalt.

Many people are familiar with olivine due to it being the mineral form of the popular gem peridot. 

Usually olive green, yellow-green, or bright green in color, olivine is usually found on the surface and in dark igneous rocks along divergent plate boundaries. 

As a mineral, it has one of the highest crystallization temperatures and is one of the first to crystalize from magma.

As magma cools, olivine crystals can form and then settle to the bottom of the chamber due to their higher density.

Because of this settling, higher concentrations of olivine can be found in rocks such as dunite in the lowest parts of magma chambers. 

When exposed to the surface, olivine is one of the first minerals to be affected by weathering.

Because of this, it is not commonly found in sedimentary rocks.

However, it can exist in sand or sediments when the deposits are close to the source of the olivine. 

Physical Properties of Olivine 

Olivine possesses an olive green color, although this can vary in hue and even be brownish-green or brown in specimens that have high iron content.

It has a colorless streak, a vitreous luster, and it can be either transparent or translucent.

On the Mohs hardness scale, it ranks between 6.5 and 7.0. 

Olivine in the Mantle and Beyond

In the Earth’s mantle, olivine is believed to be an important mineral, and its presence has been determined by behavioral changes in seismic waves as they cross the boundary between the crust and the mantle. 

Olivine in the interior of the Earth has also been confirmed due to its presence in xenoliths, which are believed to be pieces from the mantle which come to the surface via deep-source volcanic eruptions. 

However, olivine has also been found to come from beyond the planet in the form of meteorites that are thought to stem from a since-destroyed planet that once existed between Mars and Jupiter.

Although some believe that they may come from significantly large meteorites that were large enough to develop an internal structure such as a rocky mantle and a metallic core. 

Olivine was also incredibly discovered in 2011 by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

It is believed that tiny olivine crystals were found raining through a cloud of gas that is in the process of creating a new star.

This olivine is thought to be created by strong currents that lift crystalized particles from the surface and into the atmosphere of the newly developing star.

Once the momentum is lost, the olivine falls back into the gas cloud, repeating the cycle again and again. 

Uses of Olivine

Olivine isn’t commonly used in industry, although it has been used in the creation of slag.

Forsterite, a high-magnesium variety of olivine, is added to blast furnaces to help remove impurities during the creation of slag. 

Additionally, it has also been used as a refractory material before alternatives become easier to obtain. 

What Is Peridot?

Peridot is the gemstone variety of the mineral olivine, making them truly one and the same.

It is bright green to yellow-green and serves as the birthstone for August. 

Peridot is highly popular in jewelry, with deep green and bright lime green being the most prized colors.

A majority of the peridot that is used in jewelry comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona.

Many of the stones found there are only a few carats and less in size and have visible chromite or other mineral crystals inside.

Once mined, these stones are cut for jewelry in Asia and then transported back to the United States for sale. 

The highest quality peridot crystals are found in Myanmar and Pakistan, where metamorphic rocks produce olivine crystals.

These crystals are usually found alongside dolomitic marble or serpentine. 

Olivine and Peridot

Peridot is the gemstone variety of the mineral olivine, and, as such, telling them apart comes down to understanding their forms. 

When talking about olivine, the term is used to describe any magnesium-iron silicate mineral which crystallizes in a geometric arrangement of three unequal right angle axes. 

Peridot is a transparent gemstone variety of this mineral that is transparent with an olive-green to yellow-green color. 

Metaphysical Uses

As a stone that has been known for centuries, olivine and peridot have become associated with specific metaphysical properties. 

Along with being the birthstone for August, it is also traditionally given as an anniversary gift after 16 years of marriage.

It is thought that peridot beings good health, better sleep, and peace to relationships by helping promote a balance in emotions and in the mind.

Sometimes it is also known as a stone of compassion. 

Some also associate peridot with creativity, happiness, and love, believing that it can help inspire, calm, and promote renewal in many facets of life.

In some legends, it was believed that setting peridot in gold could create a powerful talisman that could help stave away nightmares or terrible visions. 

Similarly, olivine has also been used as a ward against the evil eye, and some people still believe that it can protect against jealousy, bitterness, and resentment, especially if aimed at you from someone else. 

Although these correlations have no scientific backing, they help to demonstrate the significance that this stone — in either form — has held throughout history.

While owning olivine or peridot may not necessarily bring these benefits, the stone can still make a beautiful addition to a collection or as a piece of jewelry. 

A Fascinating Stone

Olivine, and its gemstone variety peridot, are fascinating and beautiful stones that every collector should be aware of.

Raw specimens and cut peridots make great additions to any collection, and they are something that you should be sure to keep an eye out for.