Chrysoprase Green Variety of Quartz
Introduction to the Mineral Chrysoprase
Despite chrysoprase being most well known for its apple green colour, it can be found in several different shades of green. Chrysoprase is a cryptocrystalline variety of quartz which means its crystals are too small to be seen with naked eye.
It grades 6.5 to 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness so like most varieties of quartz it's relatively hard. This makes chrysoprase a nice stone to work with.
This green variety of quartz is widely used as a gemstone. The very finest material is void of flaws, fractures and inclusions. Although sometimes mistaken for emerald, the colour is caused by trace amounts of nickel whereas in emerald it's chromium.
Most of the world's finest gem-grade chrysoprase comes from Queensland in Western Australia, Germany, Poland, Russia, Arizona, California and Brazil.
When used for its metaphysical properties chrysoprase balances yin and yang energies and aligns the chakras. It's a stone of communication, balance and stability and is particularly useful for those who suffer with an inferiority complex.
Chrysoprase Through the Ages
Although mentioned in writings as early as 23 AD, commercial mining of chrysoprase didn't begin until about 1740. It was popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans who used it to create cameos and intaglios. The name comes from the Greek word 'chrysos' meaning gold and 'prason' meaning leek.
During the Middle Ages chrysoprase was used lavishly in Europe and was mined in the Northern Czech Republic and Southern Poland. Once these deposits were exhausted it became considerably more expensive.
Many buildings in Prague are decorated with chrysoprase. The most famous is 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 in the photo at the top of our page is courtesy of Steve Singingstone48 - Flickr. The second was taken by Stone Mania during a visit to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington D.C.