Ocean jasper is a rare variety of orbicular jasper which comes in a wide range of colours and with many different patterns. The spherical orb-like markings that are typical of this variety of jasper make it a relatively easy stone to identify. Although orbicular jasper can be found in abundance in many locations worldwide, Ocean jasper is unique to Madagascar and has only been found in two or three locations on the island. Sadly all of these are now mined out which means there is little or no gem grade material left available to mine.
Although ocean jasper was originally discovered at some point during the 1950's there was uncertainty about the exact location where the stone had been found. It was therefore quickly forgotten about until a picture of a particularly beautiful specimen was published in an encyclopedia of minerals. The source was then re-discovered in a remote area on Madagascar's North West coast and the reason it had remained hidden for so long was because the area only became visible at low tide. Due to the lack of any accessible roads the location could initially only be reached by sea hence mining was carried out by hand because it wasn't possible to transport heavy lifting equipment or industrial machinery to the site.
Ocean jasper emerged onto the world's stage at the International Gem and Mineral show in Tucson, Arizona in January 2000 but by 2006 the mine on the North West coast of Madagascar was almost completely depleted.
The wide variety of colours that can be seen in this variety of jasper are the result of many different mineral inclusions. Red is caused by iron in the form of the mineral hematite, yellow or grey is due to the presence of clay and brown tends to be caused by goethite. Although jasper generally tends to be opaque, ocean jasper can sometimes be slightly translucent and when held up towards the light fascinating patterns and markings can often be seen.
In crystal healing ocean jasper is said to be beneficial for detoxifying, stress, patience, circulation, insomnia, eczema, colds and also for bringing the body into balance.
Ocean jasper is a unique and now relatively rare stone which grades 6½ to 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
Ocean Jasper - The Whole Story