Peridot and tourmaline are two minerals from the silicate family which, to the untrained eye, can be difficult to tell apart.
The main difference between these minerals is their chemical composition and coloring – tourmaline contains several different chemicals while peridot contains just three.
Subsequently, tourmaline can be found in pink, purple, green, and blue hues but peridot specimens all exist on the green color spectrum.
Peridot vs Tourmaline (EXPLAINED)
What is Peridot?
Peridot, or chrysolite, is a silicate mineral with a particularly high magnesium content.
Peridot is closely related to olivine, a magnesium iron silicate.
The higher proportion of iron contained within the matrices of peridot contributes to its beautiful coloring.
Peridot specimens can be found in many shades from a deep olive green to a brownish yellow, the exact hue of which depends on the iron content of the stone.
As with many gemstones, fakes are common and are typically made of colored glass.
Real peridot can be identified by its delicacy – it is not particularly durable and can be scratched easily.
Genuine peridot gemstones do not change color depending on the light source, true peridot will keep its yellow-green shade both under natural and artificial light.
A final test for peridot is to hold it against a light source and observe the refraction. A double trace of light through the stone indicates the dual refraction of the peridot matrix.
Peridot is an interesting mineral as it is formed inside the molten rock of the Earth’s upper mantle, rather than the crust itself.
It has been mined for thousands of years, most notably beginning in ancient Egypt over 4000 years ago.
Today, the best peridot specimens are found along the 1,666-mile-long border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, called the Durand Line.
Other sources of quality peridot are mines in China, Myanmar, Australia, and areas of Africa.
The chemical composition of the molten mantle varies by geographical location, so peridot from each of these places exhibits subtly different colors.
The stones mined in Myanmar are a lighter shade of green than those from the Durand Line, where peridot is a darker shade of green and features a hazy sheen.
Peridot is primarily used in jewelry as an inexpensive yet striking burst of color.
Because it is relatively soft it is easy to work into the desired shape.
Peridot is also prized in the world of metaphysical crystal collectors as it is believed to grant good luck as well as protection of the body.
What is Tourmaline?
Tourmaline is a boron silicate mineral with a hugely variable array of colors thanks to its range of element inclusions.
This unique crystal can be found in shades of black, green, blue, pink, brown, and white.
These colors depend on the element inclusions in the tourmaline crystal matrix.
For example, green tourmaline contains iron and chromium, whereas red tourmaline contains manganese.
The stones can be a single color or a combination of several different hues.
Tourmaline was first mined in Brazil in the 1500s, however it was initially thought to be a type of emerald.
It wasn’t until the 1800s when tourmaline was correctly identified as its own mineral category.
Tourmaline can be found all over the world, but its quality, and therefore its price, varies dramatically.
Today, the highest-grade tourmaline is still found in Brazil, as well as areas of the US including San Diego.
Other common sites for tourmaline mining are found in Tanzania, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Nigeria.
You can identify tourmaline by its typical prismatic crystal habit, which allows the crystal to form long elongated shapes with paralleled opposite ends.
These crystals are usually triangular or six-sided.
If a tourmaline specimen has been cut, confirming its authenticity can also be done by observing it under artificial light.
True tourmaline will change color to reveal a brown undertone.
Around 95% of the world’s tourmaline is black, or schorl, tourmaline.
It has pyroelectrical properties and is an emitter of infrared radiation which makes it a valuable industrial material.
Here, it is used in environmental air and water purification and biomedicine.
Tourmaline is also a well-established gemstone in the jewelry world and is collected by crystal enthusiasts for its perceived protection against negative energies.
How Are Peridot and Tourmaline Similar?
Both peridot and tourmaline are silicate minerals, meaning that they are based on silicon and oxygen atoms.
They both exhibit a green/yellow hue and show variability in color and shade.
Because of this green coloring, both of these gemstones are often either mistaken for emerald or are deliberately used as a cheaper alternative in jewelry making.
However, both minerals are prized for their vibrant colors and moderate cost which makes them ideal stones to use in jewelry.
How Are Peridot and Tourmaline Different?
Although both minerals have a wide variety of colors, peridot coloring extends across the green and yellow spectrum only.
By contrast, tourmaline specimens can be found in a huge array of colors including greens, yellows and even pink.
Another difference is in the chemical makeup of these crystals.
Peridot is very specifically made up of silicon, iron, and manganese in varying quantities while tourmaline is a collective term for a variety of silica minerals.
All tourmaline has a framework of aluminum, boron, and silicon but also contains elements including sodium, lithium, calcium, and chromium.
These chemicals explain the variability in tourmaline’s coloring and represent the main distinction from peridot.
Why Do People Confuse Peridot and Tourmaline?
These two minerals are often confused as each other because of their overlapping color phases.
Both stones can be dark to light green which makes differentiation difficult to the untrained eye.
One way to tell them apart is to look for brown coloration when the stone is held up to artificial light.
A brown hue indicates tourmaline, while no color change indicates peridot.
These unique gemstones are as characterful as they are beautiful.
Although peridot and tourmaline are often confused as each other or even as other stones, it is easy to tell them apart once you know what you are looking for.
Both the summery green of peridot and the unique color combinations of tourmaline add a special touch to jewelry or a mineral collection.
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