Tag Archives: green

Magritte’s Peridot

Peridot Flower ArrangementEarlier this summer I went to the World Association of Flower Arrangers Show. I thought it was a regular flower show, so it was not the photography nirvana that I’d been hoping for. The lighting was abysmal, but there were some really clever category challenges.

My favorite was ‘mineral’. The challenge was based on composing a monochrome composition evocative of a mineral. Not all minerals are monochrome, of course… Some pieces really shone, though plenty skipped the mineral inspiration and stuck to color alone.

There was a great arrangement based on peridot. The clean shape and lines combined with such a perfect green were a nice nod to both August’s birthstone (and perhaps unintentionally) to the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.

Son of Man by Rene Magritte

Son of Man by Rene Magritte

Magritte is probably best known for his 1964 portrait, The Son of Man. His paintings are often crisp, with sharp lines and a clear demarcation of color. His idealized yet realistic style underscored the unreliability of images.

The classic example is his Ceci n’est pas une pipe. It’s a painting of a pipe with a line underneath it stating ‘this is not a pipe.’ Which is true, it is an image of a pipe. As the artist himself pointed out, try putting tobacco in it. He revisits this same point in the lesser known Ceci n’est pas une pomme, which came to my mind along with The Son of Man when I saw the peridot arrangement at the show.

Peridot is a pale to middling green gemstone. It’s reasonably durable so suitable for rings. Unlike emeralds, which range from pure to blue tinted green, peridot is normally on the yellow shades of green. (It is also known as olivine for it’s tendency towards olive greens.)

What’s interesting is that it is one of the few gemstones that is almost never treated, so the richness of color you see is truly natural. Also interesting is that peridot has been found in meteorites. I got to see a sample at a gem show last week. They weren’t the most beautiful stones, but it was fascinating to see them growing with the so very foreign metal.

Large stones of the purer green color are unusual and becoming harder to come by. That’s part of the reason I mostly use peridot in my tree of life pendants, stones large enough to wire wrap are few and far between. In chips and cabochons peridot tends to have great dept of color, but it also takes faceting well and paler green ones can sparkle brilliantly.

Like most gems that have been known since ancient times, peridot is surrounded by myths and metaphysical attributions. My favorite is that it is supposed to neutralize jealousy and envious thoughts, and so aid in friendships.

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An emerald, how beautiful!

May’s traditional birthstone is emerald. It seems like a wonderful option for the northern hemisphere, rich green just as the buds are unfurling into proper leaves.

Emerald is a type of beryl. (From aluminum beryllium silicate.) The word itself comes from the Greek for green stone, and probably did originally refer to most green stones. The stone has been known since ancient times, the Greeks and Romans used them and made fakes out of glass, as did the Egyptians. Cleopatra was said to have emerald mines among her vast wealth. (And there is some evidence that that is truth rather than rumor.) Probably the most beautiful emeralds I’ve ever seen were in ancient jewelry in the British Museum. I later years the Spanish plundered large quantities of emeralds from the New World as well as their hauls of gold and silver.

The trace elements chrome and vanadium both make beryls green, but traditionally only beryls colored green through traces of chrome are considered emeralds. Gemologists are still debating if a vanadium green beryl is a true emerald. (The authors of my assorted books all disagree with each other as well. It sounds like there isn’t an official decision if gems are to be classified by color or by chemistry.) Emeralds are one of the few precious stones where inclusions are expected, a too clear gem is considered suspect. Inclusions are euphemistically called jardin– french for garden- reflecting the shape combined with the color of the stone. (Probably my favorite euphemism for flaws…) Some translucency is a plus, and the deeper greens with a hint of blue are the most valuable.

The classic emerald cut was designed to reduce the fragile spots on the stone, since they are sensitive to knocks.

A movie moment in honor of emeralds and their fascinating color. Gigi learns about jewelry from her aunt, and to look for that hint of blue that makes an emerald so stunning. (And also a nod to Mother’s Day. The ‘topaz, among my jewels, are you mad’ line is a running joke with my mother…)

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