Pair-a-dot or Pair-a-doe?

Let’s face it – no other birthstone has quite so much confusion about its handle. (Except maybe “chalcedony,” and that’s not technically a birthstone.)

So which way is correct?

Chryzolit (perydot, oliwin) - Kohestan, Pakistan. 01
Peridot in the rough. The higher the iron content, the deeper the shade of green.

Webster’s dictionary defines the term “peridot” as “a deep yellowish-green transparent variety of olivine used as a gem” with the phonetic tag \ˈper-ə-ˌdät, -ˌdō(t)\ indicating that both pronunciations are acceptable. So don’t worry – you haven’t been saying it wrong!

That said, in the jewelry industry, the preferred term is the more fluid, Continental-sounding “pair-a-doe.” This seems to be the default version in most parts of the world, with some experts claiming it is the only correct title.

St. John's Island
St. John’s Island – a volcanic spot in the Red Sea – was once the ancient world’s primary source of peridot. The Greeks called it “Topazios.” (Image: The Giant Crystal Project)

To complicate matters, no one is really sure where the name comes from. Some suggest a source from the Arabic “faridat” for “gem,” or the Latin “paederot” for a kind of opal. The earliest known reference to a light green gem called by the familiar modern name is from 1700s France. Prior to that, this dazzling birthstone was lumped together with a number of precious stones under a handful of other names.

Somewhere along the line, the name stuck. In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers adopted the peridot as the official August birthstone – a soothing, verdant sparkle to charm the dog days of summer.

San Carlos wildflowers, 2010

Peridot, Arizona lies within lands belonging to the San Carlos Indian Nation.

Interestingly, a place called Peridot, Arizona is one of this country’s centers for mining the starry green gem. Residents pronounce the name of their town with a “t.” So whether the name controversy arose somewhere within its obscure origins, or from an uber-literal text reading in early America, we’re not quite clear.

What is perfectly clear is that this gorgeous and unique gem transcends most vocabulary. A striking vivid color and a lore of magical powers makes it an outstanding design statement that doesn’t need a lot of words to make its point.


About Faye's Diamond Mine

Faye’s Diamond Mine is an award-winning jewelry store located in the beautiful Ozark foothills in Clinton, Arkansas. We specialize in fine diamonds and our staff has consistently received national recognition for jewelry design and quality service. We are proud of our community-minded business approach and our high standards of artistic creativity. We’d love to serve your jewelry needs!

Posted on August 4, 2013, in Birthstones, Learning and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Pair-a-dot or Pair-a-doe?.

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