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An olive green color magnesium iron silicate mineral. Olivine occurs in igneous and metamorphic rocks and has two compositional varieties: Fayalite (iron rich) and forsterite (magnesium rich). Olivine beads have been found in pre-Dynastic Egyptian jewelry. The opaque stone was found in Egypt, in the lava of Vesuvius and in the Eifel district of Germany. Transparent, gem quality stones, called Peridot, come from Zabargad (St. John's Island in the Red Sea) and from Minas Gerais (Brazil), South Africa, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Norway, British Columbia, and the U.S.(Arizona, Hawaii).


Synonyms and Related Terms

chrysolite; peridot (yellow-green); fayalite (Fe2SiO4); forsterite (Mg2SiO4); Olivin (Deut.); olivino (Esp.); peridoto (Esp.); olivine (Fr.); olivijn (Ned.); oliwin (Pol.); olivina (Port.)



Other Properties

Orthorhombic crystal system with massive or granular forms.

Fracture = uneven to conchoidal. Luster = vitreous. Streak = colorless.

Transparent to translucent.

Composition (Mg,Fe)2SiO4
CAS 1317-71-1
Mohs Hardness 6.5 - 7.0
Density 3.27-3.37

Additional Information

° B.Aston, J.Harrell, I.Shaw, "Stone" in Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, P.Nicholson, I.Shaw (eds.), Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 47-48.° Mineralogy Database: Olivine


Properties of Common Gemstones

Additional Images

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Jack Odgen, Jewellery of the Ancient World, Rizzoli International Publications Inc., New York City, 1982
  • R.F.Symmes, T.T.Harding, Paul Taylor, Rocks, Fossils and Gems, DK Publishing, Inc., New York City, 1997
  • C.W.Chesterman, K.E.Lowe, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com Comment: "olivine." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2004. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 9 Dec. 2004 .
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 561
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993

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