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I'm a communications specialist with a passion for vintage and I run an online vintage business called Vintage Baubles & Bits.

I consider myself a saver of beautiful items from the past and a repurposer of treasures!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hawaiian Diamonds

 The other day at an auction I picked up a 3-piece set of vintage costume jewelry that I liked because you don't find a set with a necklace/brooch (the pendant has a pin on the back so you can wear it as a brooch instead of a necklace), earrings and a ring that are a perfect match in vintage. Plus these looked really beautiful, the bright goldtone filigree really set off the green stone and the coral.

When I got home I found a slip of paper inside the box that was written in very shaky handwriting, but from the description the two things I took away were "Hawaiian" and "Diamond." I have to say the word diamond really perked my attention, but I had never seen diamonds that looked like this. The Hawaiian motif made sense - I mean the pendant is three pineapples in a basket! However, I put the pieces aside and didn't get back to them until earlier this week when I was putting together a Treasury on Etsy featuring peridot, my birthstone for the month of August.

While searching Etsy for peridot items to feature I came across a pineapple brooch that looked a lot like my set and discovered that, indeed, they were very similar. I read the description for that brooch and it turns out that "Hawaiian Diamonds" are actually uncut olivine, the mineral that peridot is created from! So I started doing more research and learned that in the United States peridot can be found in Arizona and New Mexico and also in Hawaii, where it is known as "Pele's Tears" after the Hawaiian goddess. 

Olivine forms as certain types of lava cool, before it breaks through the surface. This type of rock is called basalt and from the basalt you can harvest olivine. Olivine gets it's color from the iron found in the mineral and the more pure the green color, the more it is worth.

Today most of the peridot found in the United States comes from Arizona on the San Carlos Reservation. However, larger amounts of peridot used to be found in Hawaii on the Island of Oahu. In fact if you visit the island there is a beach where the sand is green! If I ever make it to Hawaii, that beach will be top of my list!

The set I have is most likely from the 1950s and is a very common design from Hawaii. The stones on the pieces are peridot that is uncut, but smoothed. The pink flowers and pineapple bodies are actually cut coral and then the goldtone metal is formed around the stones for a very natural setting in the earrings and ring.

So while Hawaiian Diamonds don't have the same value as actual diamonds, they have a pretty awesome story and history!

Just for fun, facts about peridot:
  • Peridot has been found in ancient Egyptian and Grecian ruins
  • Ancient peridot came from the Red Sea island of St. Johns
  • Peridot forms during volcanic eruptions
  • The largest cut peridot is 310 carats and located in The Smithsonian Institute
  • It is thought that peridot brought power and influence to the owner
  • Peridot has been found in meteors that have fallen from space
  • Peridot has been mined for more than 3,000 years - since 1500 BC

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