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Chrysoprase Meaning, Properties, Facts and Photos

emerald green coloured chrysoprase mineral. A rough piece on a small stand.

What is Chrysoprase?

Chrysoprase is a green chalcedony coloured by impurities of nickel.  Not all green chalcedony is chrysoprase. 

Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline variety of quartz.  Minerals that are cryptocrystalline are made up of crystals too small to be seen with naked eye.

Chalcedony occurs in several colours one of which is green.  Being green doesn't automatically make it chrysoprase. 

For a mineral to be classed as chrysoprase its colour must be caused by nickel.  When caused by impurities of another mineral it's green chalcedony.

Although best known for its apple green colour chrysoprase can also be found in several different shades of green.  It can be translucent to opaque. 

Like most varieties of quartz it's relatively hard.  On Mohs scale of hardness chrysoprase grades 6.5 to 7.

It's widely used as a gemstone and for carving ornaments and other decorative items.  The finest stone is void of flaws, fractures and inclusions.

Although sometimes mistaken for emerald, the colour of chrysoprase comes from nickel.  The colour of emerald comes from chromium.

Most of the world's finest gem-grade stones come from Queensland in Western Australia, Germany, Poland, Russia, Arizona, California and Brazil.

Chrysoprase History and Meaning

The mineral chrysoprase was known as early as seven thousand years ago.  Artefacts including items of jewellery from an ancient settlement in the Indus Valley (now Pakistan) were found to contain this green variety of quartz.  The source of the stone has not been established.

It was also found in archaeological sites in India.  This material has been dated to 5,500 to 2,600 BC.

Chrysoprase was used in ancient Egypt but was not common.  Material was imported to make scarabs particularly 'heart scarabs'.

These symbolised rebirth after death so were placed close to the heart of the deceased beneath the bandages used to wrap the mummy.

Ancient Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote about chrysoprase (chrysoprasus) in his encyclopedia 'Naturalis Historia'. There's some confusion about what exactly was written.

One author claims Pliny associated chrysoprase with 'prason' which means 'leek'.  Another says he described it as "having the colour of leek juice with a golden tinge".   

The meaning of 'chrysoprase' comes from its colour which is said to be a mixture of yellow and green. It comes from the Greek words 'khrysos' meaning 'gold' and either 'prasinos' meaning 'greenish' or 'prason' which means leek.

Either way the combination of the two words reflects the stone's characteristic yellow-green, apple-green or leek-green colour. 

It was the 18th century before the chemical composition of chrysoprase was fully understood.  

The stone began being mined commercially around 1740. 

Chrysoprase jewellery was particularly popular during the Victorian era.  Designer Peter Fabergé often worked with the finest grade stones.

During the Middle Ages gem-grade chrysoprase was used lavishly in Europe.  It was mined in the Northern Czech Republic and Southern Poland.  Once these deposits were exhausted it became far more expensive.

Many buildings in Prague are decorated with chrysoprase.  The most famous is the Chapel of St. Wenceslas.

(Reference Sachanbiński, Michał, Kuleba, Mirosław and Natkaniec-Nowak, Lucyna. "Chrysoprase – history and present" Mineralogia, vol.54, no.1, 2023, pp.1-10.)

large rough chrysoprase mineral in a museum display cabinet

Chrysoprase Healing Properties

Chrysoprase is a stone of harmony and alignment.  It balances yin and yang energies and facilitates a deep connection between heart, mind and soul.

One of its key healing properties is the ability to promote emotional balance and healing.

Chrysoprase can help overcome impulsive thoughts and actions.  It helps you to resist temptation, make more rational decisions and avoid doing things you may later regret.

It induces a deep state of meditation, calms emotional distress and eases anxiety and depression.

By clearing away negative energy and fostering a sense of inner peace, chrysoprase enables you to think more clearly which can improve problem-solving abilities.

Chrysoprase is associated with the heart chakra so can help you to give and receive love more freely.  It promotes self-acceptance, forgiveness and empathy whilst encouraging the development of harmonious and fulfilling connections with others.

It heightens intuition and expands consciousness allowing you to tap into inner wisdom.  This enables you to explore your spiritual path with clarity and purpose.

Many green stones have a deep connection with nature.  The energy of chrysoprase resonates with Earth and the wider universe.  It strengthens the desire to become more involved with the natural world and to protect and nurture its beauty. 

Article Pictures

The chrysoprase in the photo at the top of our page is courtesy of Steve Singingstone48.  The piece in the second photo is housed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Washington D.C.  Photo by Stone Mania.

Images are clickable and redirect to the original photo.

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