Arizona is a great place to hunt for peridot.
The following are some of the beautiful locations around the state where you may get your hands dirty and search for your own peridot.
Where To Find Peridot In Arizona (A Guide)
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Peridot is the most well-known gemstone version of the mineral olivine, which is a magnesium-iron silicate mineral.
It is one of the few gemstones that exists in just one hue — green!
Peridot is one of only two gems (the other being diamond) that were produced in molten rock in the Earth’s upper mantle and pushed to the surface by the forces of earthquakes and volcanoes.
Peridot was first produced in around 70 A.D. on St. Johns Island in the Red Sea, some 50 miles off the coast of Egypt.
This area generated the majority of the first known peridot stones, and minor quantities of material are being produced there today.
It is thought that one of Cleopatra’s ’emeralds’ was really a peridot stone.
August’s official birthstone, Peridot, is the finest form of the mineral olivine — When olivine attains gemstone grade, it is referred to as “peridot.”
The hue of the gem may range from pale yellow-green to dark green or greenish-brown. and may be cut into magnificent faceted stones.
Arizona has grown to prominence as a global leader in gem-quality peridot during the past century.
Gila County’s Peridot Mesa
The majority of this gorgeous green gemstone is mined on the appropriately called Peridot Mesa.
Located little over 100 miles east of Phoenix, numerous roads go to the world’s biggest peridot deposit, but less than half of them actually lead to the mine.
They do, however, connect to highways that may eventually connect to the mine.
However, once there, there is no real mine, since peridot mining is not a high-tech procedure.
Rather than that, the site is a canyon in the San Carlos Apache Reservation’s flatlands, and the miners are Apaches armed with hammers, crowbars, and coffee cans.
Peridot is often discovered trapped in massive basalt nodules, or “bombs,” which are retrieved and then cracked apart to reveal the gems contained inside.
Mineralization occurs atop a mesa topped by a basalt flow ranging in thickness from ten to more than one hundred feet and underlain by flat-lying tuffs, siltstones, and gravels.
These sedimentary strata are considered to be the Pliocene or Pleistocene equivalents of the Gila Conglomerate.
Peridot is found as approximately ellipsoidal bombs, or segregations, inside basalt and cinders erupted from a volcanic cone near the mesa’s southwest quadrant.
It is found in the form of euhedral crystals and spherical grains.
The ellipsoidal segregations containing the peridot account for between 25% and 40% of the rock content and range in maximum diameter from 3 to 8 inches.
Individuals (up to 50) worked in dispersed areas of the deposit using manual techniques.
Additionally, it was mined by more automated 5-10 person businesses.
The majority of stones are obtained from debris left behind after basalt erosion.
The best places are around the volcanic cone’s rim, in washes near to the cone, and in tiny canyons that breach the mesa’s north rim.
Without specific authorization, collecting peridot on tribal territory is really prohibited.
Apache tribe members mine the stone by hand and then export it to be cut.
Currently, the San Carlos Apache Tribe permits visitors to the region for a price of $10 per day per car, plus $35 per person per day to the mine owner who will escort tourists on the mesa.
Helicopter visits to the mine are conducted a few times a year.
However, they are presently postponed owing to worries about the weather and Covid-19.
The biggest jewels are often discovered amid basalt flows or adjacent washes inside the mine.
The majority of stones discovered by rockhounds outside of mines are less than 5 carats in weight.
The gems are available in raw or cut form on a variety of internet retailers.
Steve Joey, the proprietor of one mine, may be contacted online for mine tours.
Mohave County, Littlefield
Chin Lee Valley, near Littlefield in Mohave County, has been identified as another source of peridot, albeit maybe not of the same good grade as on the reservation.
The location is located on Arizona’s northwest tip, just south of the Utah state boundary.
Several tiny basalt deposits in the vicinity may be worth exploring.
Additionally, the region has a significant amount of gypsum and gadolinite crystals.
It’s difficult to pinpoint specific discoveries there (as rockhounds are notoriously secretive).
But we do know that this is a great place to hunt and find a stash spot of your own.
Apache County’s Buell Park
Buell Park is a gem mine community situated around 265 miles north of Peridot.
Olivine is one of the mine’s primary output.
The mine is situated near the New Mexico border on Navajo reservation territory.
The mine itself seems to be closed at the moment.
Although most of the region is publicly accessible, I’m not sure whether the Indian reservation in that location permits gathering, or if any washes are flowing off the area where peridot may be discovered.
Peridot granular deposits are claimed to be found in the volcanic rock and soil that surrounds the peridot ridge on the southeastern side.
Additional map study and local investigation would be necessary to ascertain the specifics of this situation.
Williams, Coconino County in northern Arizona
Williams is situated in Coconino County in northern Arizona.
The community is sometimes referred to as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” due to its location at the intersection of Interstate 40 and Highway 64, which leads to the national park.
The village is located on the western rim of the San Francisco volcanic field.
Basalts containing tiny peridot, pyroxene, and plagioclase crystals are exposed in the region.
Again, the crystals discovered here will be smaller than those found in the San Carlos region, but they may make an excellent addition to your rockhound collection.
Finally, a region that is not surrounded by reservation grounds exists.
There is a National Forest area, but collection is permitted on a restricted basis.
Always ensure that you have obtained the necessary licenses and refrain from collecting on privately owned property without authorization.
Indeed, any region with significant basalt deposits is likely to have some peridot.
Additionally, it is found in wash zones surrounding copper mining operations.
Between Williams and Flagstaff, there are several basalt deposits that may be worth investigating.
Arizona Rockhounding Resources
If you like to have a physical book in hand (like when there’s no cell service), here’s a few popular options:
Rockhounding Arizona: A Guide To 75 Of The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites
Southwest Treasure Hunter’s Gem and Mineral Guide
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