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The Jasper

The Jasper: from the Greek 'iaspis' | Photo: Shutterstock

A true chameleon, known for its one-of-a-kind strong patterns, jasper is a fine-grained variety of cryptocrystalline quartz (chalcedony).

This colored gemstone incorporates up to 20 percent of foreign materials, which define the unique appearance and streak of each gem.

The name jasper originates in the Greek word iaspis, meaning “spotted stone.”

The opaque gemstone usually shows different patterns and intense, beautiful contrasts between the main color and the several inclusions.

It occurs in all colors and is usually multicolored, flamed, orbicular or striped. Uniformly colored jasper is very uncommon.

Jasper occurs through deposition, and its dense, microcrystalline structure can only be seen under high magnification.

During the formation process, the crystals incorporate other materials, such as hematite, which is present in the common brick-red to brownish-red jasper, and clay, which originates from gray to yellowish-white jasper.

Brown or yellow varieties are produced by goethite.

Due to its great diversity, jasper has several trade names, which allude to its color, composition, pattern, and source.

This striking stone is present all over the world in countries like Egypt, Brazil, Australia, India, Madagascar, Canada, Uruguay, Russia, Kazakhstan, and the United States.

Jasperized fossil wood can be found in Arizona, USA.

Jasper has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale. Due to its opacity, visible even in thin slices, it is usually cut en cabochon, or used for carving and stone tiles.

Used for ornamentation and jewelry since Paleolithic times, jasper is called “the nurturing stone” and is considered to be a symbol of fertility

It is believed to sustain and support during times of stress and necessary conflict.

Indians and Native Americans see jasper as a rain stone. It was also the twelfth gem in the sacred breastplate of the Jewish High Priest, according to the Book of Exodus, and the first foundation stone of New Jerusalem.

Jasper | Physical Properties

Chemical Composition: SiO2
Cleavage: None
Color: Red, Yellow, Brown, etc
Crystal System: Hexagonal/Trigonal
Fracture: Conchoidal
Luster: Vitreous
Mohs Hardness: 7
Specific Gravity: 2.7
Transparency: Opaque