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Jasper Stone | Properties and Meaning


 Rough jasper stone in hues of red orange and yellow.



1. Variety of the Mineral Chalcedony
2. Some History of Jasper
3. Popular Varieties of Jasper
4. Our Collection of Jasper Stones
5. Read More




Jasper | Variety of the Mineral Chalcedony

Jasper which is well known in the world of rocks and minerals is a microcrystalline variety of the mineral chalcedony.  Microcrystalline means its crystals are too small to be seen with the naked eye.  Although often referred to as a mineral jasper is in fact a rock because although made up primarily of quartz and/or chalcedony, it also features impurities of many other minerals and substances.  Not only is this the reason why jasper is opaque but these impurities are also responsible for the stone's many different colours and markings.

The presence of the rock forming mineral hematite turns jasper red, clay introduces a yellowish white or grey colour and goethite causes yellows and browns.  Jasper stone often exhibits more than one colour and whilst blue is rare, shades of red, yellow and brown are most common although many other colours are also possible. 

The formation of jasper begins when sediments become stuck together which happens when groundwater containing silica that has seeped through sedimentary rock subsequently dries up.  The silica then acts like a kind of glue and cements everything together.  The different types of sediment will determine the colours present in the jasper whilst the stone's patterns are often the result of the motion of natural forces that brought the sediment (or volcanic ash) together.

Well known for its wide variety of colours and markings, jasper stone is almost always opaque.  Widely used for lapidary purposes, gemstones tend to be shaped into cabochons.  It's a relatively hard stone which grades 6½ to 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness and can be found in most countries around the world.  When tumbled, jasper is particularly popular for use in holistic therapies such as reiki and crystal healing.  Different coloured stones have their own unique healing properties but in general jasper is a profoundly grounding crystal with strong healing and nurturing abilities.  It can be used to re-align the chakras which is seen as being important because when out of alignment we can feel as if we're being pulled in all directions and distant from our natural state of well being.     

Identification of the many different types of jasper stone that can be found around the world is sometimes made slightly easier because the first part of the name may offer a clue to a specific characteristic or the locality where it was mined.  Dalmatian, leopardskin and zebra jasper all exhibit markings said to resemble the respective animals. Landscape, scenic and picture jasper are all types of mudstone and mookaite which comes from Western Australian is named after Mooka Creek where it's mined.  There are literally hundreds of different names but many including noreena, polychrome, poppy and imperial to name just a few offer little or no clue to the origins or characteristics of the stone.



red jasper stone in a museum display cabinet

Red Jasper Veined with Quartz. Clickable Photo.  Stone Mania ©



Some History of Jasper

Although known for thousands of years the stone that was referred to as jasper by ancient writers such as Theophrastus (c.371 - c.287 BC), Pliny the Elder (23 - 79 AD) and many others was not the same stone as the jasper that we know today.  In ancient times it was mostly described as being translucent, some stated it may also be cloudy and it was often associated with "smaragdos" which is known today as emerald.  Although documented as being green, some writers including Pliny claimed it also occurred in blue, purple, pink and some varieties were colourless.

It's widely believed that iaspis as it was known at that time was probably a generic name for translucent or transparent varieties of quartz that were not known by any other name.  There are however indications that the mineral fluorite and even jade may also have been included in this group because it was once common for rocks and minerals to be grouped according to their colour.  The stone referred to as pink jasper is likely to have been rose quartz, blue would have been a type of chalcedony, green chrysoprase and those which exhibited hues of brown were probably smoky quartz.  All of these materials were widely used as seals which has helped historians to identify them correctly. 

Jasper is known to have been used as a carving material for thousands of years and was especially popular for use in jewellery.  There are references to the stone in Greek, Hebrew, Assyrian and Latin literature and in the Bible (Exodus 28.20) jasper is identified as being one of the gemstones in the high priest breastplate.  Iaspis or jasper is said to have been the third stone in the fourth row of this sacred garment.



Popular Varieties of Jasper



Our Collection of Jasper Stones


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