Can the peridot find its place in popular culture?

    As Fuli Gemstone prepares to open its new peridot mine in northeastern China, it argues for a reappraisal of the vibrant green jewel.
    Fuli Gemstones at GemGenève. Photo: Fuli Gemstones
      Published   in Hard Luxury

    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, the ruby is the king of precious stones, and sapphire engagement rings have adorned the paws of A-listers like Elizabeth Taylor, Kate Middleton, and Victoria Beckham. What’s the peridot's story?

    Despite the yellowy-green stone being the only gem other than diamond that is formed in the Earth’s mantle, August’s birthstone has never truly achieved mainstream esteem in the fine jewelry industry.

    However, a new producer and supplier of the vibrant iron and magnesium-concoction, UK mining company Fuli Gemstones, is hoping to change that.

    The August birthstone has not seen full appreciation across the fashion industry, with designers seldom incorporating it into collections. Photo: Fuli Gemstones
    The August birthstone has not seen full appreciation across the fashion industry, with designers seldom incorporating it into collections. Photo: Fuli Gemstones

    Located in the Changbai Mountains of Northeastern China, the company’s glowing-peridot Yiqisong Nanshan mine — the world's largest known peridot deposit — is set to open for business in 2024 and is aiming to be the world’s first zero-waste colored gemstone mine

    Fuli Gemstone CMO Pia Tonna explains to Jing Daily in an interview that the top 9 percent of stones would probably end up in high jewelry suites, then the rest will be great for emerging designers and more accessible price-points.

    "Peridot became forgotten. It was really popular up until the Edwardian times. But as soon as you lose any consistent supply of a gemstone, it falls off the radar. When there was a supply of peridot, it got adopted by the suffragettes and some pioneering designers like Suzanne Belperron,” says London-based Tonna.

    In a bid to ignite interest in China in the gemstone, which is currently considered semi-precious, and is therefore deemed less valuable than the four major stones (diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies), Fuli Gemstones has just opened the Peridot, Hope for the Future exhibition at Shenzhen Jewelery Museum. The main aim of the exhibition being to re-introduce the peridot, from the history of it being known to drive away evil spirits, to recent projects such as the Stephen Webster-designed Magnipheasant collar.

    Sustainability quest#

    Convincing luxury consumers in China, who often prioritize historical luxury reputation, to embrace the overlooked gemstone, is a challenge. One factor is for sure; fine jewelry is fertile ground for growth.

    The sector is currently valued at just below 270 billion, and is projected to expand at a CAGR of 8.5 percent to 518 billion by 2030, growth driven by millennial and Generation Z consumers. Therefore, peridot must align with this young demographic’s values in terms of sustainability, which is a hurdle for a stone that’s dug out of the ground.

    Tonna says that environmental protection is at the core of the business’ strategy. When mining peridot, the byproducts of olivine and basalt which are formed are actually able to be used in other industries.

    “Basalt can be melted down into a fiber for electric cars or farming,” she says. “You can use olivine to sequester carbon. If we find a new way of mining, we are willing to share what we’ve learned. That’s one step forward, bringing the industry together and working together to make it better.”

    Elements of the jewelry industry have long been criticized for murky practices, including mining in war zones, producing so-called blood diamonds, and engaging in slavery. Fuli Gemstones’ products will be fully traceable.

    Changing tastes#

    As well as sustainability, millennial and Gen Z luxury consumers assert their individuality through their fashion choices. Yet, without the volume of pop culture references that other stones like diamonds have amassed, the peridot’s rebranding relies on forging a new narrative.

    For 2023, trend forecaster Jodie Marie Smith told Vogue in January that "less conventional color combinations'' were set to thrive. Led by multi-colored stones and chunky jewels, this year might just be the ultimate bouncepad for the Peridot to begin its resurgence.

    Rings set with multiple different stones, championing maximalism have been popular for a while now too, steered by their Instagrammability and contribution to self-expression.

    Fuli Gemstones has already collaborated with multiple designers to reinterpret the stone and its vibrant color. Seeing as the company is looking for more partners with plans for more labels to incorporate its jewels, consumers can expect to see more peridot products.

    Whether these will perform well is to be seen, though the combination of greater transparency and the popularity of fashion jewelry aesthetics puts the peridot in good stead.

    “It’s cutting-edge in a way, because it has been around for centuries, but has been forgotten about. So, if you’re not careful, it could get into the wrong hands and be put onto some cheap and nasty jewelry that would completely destroy its image,” says Tonna.

    Aiming for the cultural representation of rubies or diamonds will need the collaborative effort of Hollywood, the music industry, and most significantly, luxury fashion houses. Following Fuli Gemstone’s next steps will sure provide a vital lesson in how to grow the reputation of a precious stone, or adversely, how to potentially miss the opportunity of moulding a renewed symbol of contemporary culture.

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