An Introduction to the Mineral Chrysoprase
The mineral chrysoprase despite being most well known for its apple green colour can also be found in several shades of green. A cryptocrystalline mineral which means its crystals are too small to be seen with naked eye, chrysoprase grades 6½ to 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness so is relatively hard which makes it quite easy to work with.
A green variety of the mineral quartz, chrysoprase is popular for use in jewellery and the finest grade gemstones can be void of flaws, fractures, inclusions and other anomalies. Although sometimes mistaken for emerald, the colour in chrysoprase is caused by trace amounts of nickel whereas in emerald it's caused by chromium.
Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Washington D.C. Photo; Stone Mania ©
Most of the world's finest gem-grade material comes from Queensland in Western Australia, Germany, Poland, Russia, Arizona, California and Brazil. In crystal healing chrysoprase is used to balance yin and yang energies and for aligning the chakras. It's a stone of communication, balance, stability, adaptability, higher consciousness and is said to be useful for an inferiority complex.
Chrysoprase Through the Ages
Although mentioned in writings as early as 23 AD, commercial mining of the mineral chrysoprase didn't begin until about 1740. It was popular with the Ancient Greeks and Romans who used the stone to create cameos and intaglios. Its name comes from the Greek word 'chrysos' meaning gold and 'prason' meaning leek.
During the Middle Ages chrysoprase stone was used lavishly in Europe and was mined in the Northern Czech Republic and Southern Poland. Once these deposits were exhausted the mineral became considerably more expensive. Many buildings in Prague are decorated with this green variety of quartz with the most famous being the Chapel of St. Wenceslas. Chrysoprase jewellery was particularly popular during the Victorian era and the designer Peter Fabergé often worked with the finest grade material.
The chrysoprase mineral in the photo at the top of our page is courtesy of Steve Singingstone48 - Flickr.