Alexander the Great is believed to have worn a piece of Chrysoprase on his girdle during all of his battles and it was also a favourite of Frederick the Great who loved its bright green colour. Although mentioned in writings as early as 23AD, Chrysoprase was not mined commercially until about 1740. It was popular during the time of the Greeks and Romans who often cut it into cameos and intaglios. Its name comes from the Greek 'chrysos' meaning gold and 'prason' meaning leek.
During the Middle Ages, Chrysoprase was mined in Silesia, Northern Czech Republic and Southern Poland. At that time it was used lavishly in Europe until the deposits in Silesia were exhausted and then it became rarer and more expensive. Many of the buildings in Prague today are decorated with Chrysoprase including the Chapel of St. Wencelas. Its use in jewellery has also been recorded during the Victorian era and the famous jewellery designer Peter Faberge often worked with the finest grade gemstones.
A gemstone with the most incredible colour, Chrysoprase is normally apple green but can also vary to deep green. It is cryptocrystalline meaning that instead of being formed by large six sided crystals, the size of the crystals are minute and invisible to the naked eye. This attribute makes it much rarer. Due to its comparative scarcity and fascinating colour, it is one of the most prized varieties of Quartz. Finer quality gems have been known to rival Jade for which it is sometimes mistaken. These are usually a rich apple green colour, without flaws, fractures, inclusions, cavities or any other imperfections. Unlike Emeralds which owe their magnificent green colour to the presence of Chromium, the colour of Chrysoprase is due to trace amounts of Nickel.
The best known sources for Chrysoprase is Queensland in Western Australia, Germany, Poland, Russia, Arizona, California and Brazil.
In crystal healing it is used to speed the healing of any wound when held over the affected area. It is linked with communication, balance, stability, adaptability, higher consciousness, hope and youthful zest. Chrysoprase is a protective gemstone especially towards children and young animals and helps with greater flexibility, wisdom, generosity and self-confidence. It is also believed to help combat depression and with excess self focus as well as with sexual and emotional imbalance. It brings peace to the heart and well-being to one's emotional, mental and physical states. It can also assist with releasing stress, healing heartbreak, calming anger and soothing fear.
Chrysoprase is quite a hard gemstone and is graded 6.5 to 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness so it's perfect for use in jewellery.
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