Peridot, the best-known gem variety of olivine, is a captivating gemstone found in Arizona. This southwestern state boasts a significant deposit of peridot, which is formed when molten rock rises to the surface and cools, creating large "bubbles" within the lava flows. These bubbles contain vibrant green nodules, making Arizona the leading gemstone-producing state in America.
One prominent location for peridot mining is Peridot Mesa, situated on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Gila County, east of Globe. The peridot found here can only be mined by individual Native Americans or families belonging to the San Carlos Reservation. This adds a unique dimension to the story of Arizona peridot, as the Apache Indians hold authority over the land where this precious gem is found. For the past 50 years, the Apache community has been actively mining peridot, which has become a vital contributor to the local economy.
The mining methods employed for Arizona peridot are reminiscent of those used a century ago. Dynamite is used to break up the peridot-bearing basalt, maintaining a traditional approach to extraction. In terms of size, Arizona peridot typically ranges from 1 to 10 carats, with larger and inclusion-free stones being rare.
Due to its affordability, exceptional color, and quality, Arizona peridot is highly sought after by jewelry makers worldwide.