Jasper Gemstone Information
About Jasper - History and Introduction
Jasper is one of the many gemstone varieties of quartz available today. It is an opaque and impure variety of silicon dioxide (SiO2). The name 'jasper' is derived from the Greek word for 'spotted stone', referring to its typical multicolored, striped, spotted or flamed appearance. Jasper can form in virtually any color. Jasper is usually considered a chalcedony, but some scientists classify jasper as a separate type because of its distinctive grainy structure.
Jasper is a dense substance, up to twenty percent of which can be made of foreign materials. Due to these trace impurities, jasper is rarely uniform. In some cases, jasper may even grow together with agate or opal. The patterns of jasper are formed during the process of mineral consolidation, determined by the exact flow and deposition of silica-rich sediments or volcanic ash. Jasper is often modified by other intruding impurities. As original deposits of silica materials naturally form with fissures and cracks after deposition, they are later filled by other minerals, such as iron oxide, manganese dioxide, metal oxide and sometimes organic matter. The final settling of these materials determines the specific appearance of the final substance.
The most common jasper patterns include interesting marbling and veining, orbital rings, streaks, spots, flaming and banding. Like agate stone, there are numerous trade names and classifications used for jasper today. The names can be very confusing, but fortunately, most are used only by the most avid collectors.
Identifying Jasper Back to Top
Jasper is a variety of quartz with a chemical composition composed primarily of silicon dioxide. Up to 20% percent of fine dense jasper can be composed of foreign materials, typically hematite, pyrolusite, clay or calcite. It has such a distinctly grainy structure compared to other forms of chalcedony that some scientists even put jasper into its own individual group within the quartz family. Jasper has a microcrystalline structure which means its trigonal crystals can only be seen under high magnification. It can be easily distinguished from many other similar materials by its excellent hardness and lack of cleavage.
Jasper Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Jasper gemstones can be found in many locations around the world. Some of the most notable deposits are sourced from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Mexico, Russia, Uruguay, Venezuela and the United States of America, including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Buying Jasper and Determining Jasper Value Back to Top
Jasper Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Jasper: Related or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Jasper belongs to the very large group of chalcedony quartz minerals. Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals, second only to the feldspars. Considering the abundance of quartz minerals, there are numerous similar and related gemstones. There are many 'unofficial' trade names for varieties of jasper stones, most of which are locality-based names, often dependent on the exact mining location.
For the most part, trade names for jasper are used only by the most avid collectors. Some of the more well-known jasper trade names include:
Agate jasper: Yellow, brown or green blended, grown together with agate.
Jasper Mythology, Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Properties Back to Top
Jasper is the zodiacal stone for Leo, Virgo and Scorpio. It is a planetary stone for Mars and is associated with the element of fire. Since the actual colors of jasper can vary from stone to stone, its metaphysical abilities may also vary depending on the color of the specimen. Generally, jasper is considered to be the 'supreme nurturer' stone. It helps its wearer through tough times and brings tranquility and feelings of well-being to those who wear it for its power. It is also a stone of protection and is able to absorb negative energy. Physically, jasper is said to re-energize the body and alleviate symptoms of prolonged illness. It is specifically used for relieving stomach pains, pancreatic disorders, sciatica and foot problems, such as troubled toenails. It is thought to be a good stone for the libido and many wear it for its ability to prolong pleasure.
Jasper is ideal for balancing energies associated with the base chakra. In antiquity, as well as in the Middle Ages, people believed that the cosmos was reflected in gemstones. Jasper is assigned to the planets Mars and Pluto. The healing powers of gems remains a controversial issue, but gems have been used by healers, shamans and medicine men for centuries. Whether these healing properties are based on faith, fact or the placebo effect, it truly doesn't matter if it helps those who are in need. The best approach is to wear the gemstone in contact with the skin or the troubled part of the body.
Jasper Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Jasper is a member of the chalcedony quartz family; one of the most important jewelry and ornamental gemstone groups of all-time. Unlike many other colored stones, jasper can often be found in local jewelry stores. It is a favorite for both hobbyists and professional jewelers, due to its excellent affordability, abundance and variety of colors, shapes and patterns.
Jasper quartz is perfectly suitable for any type of jewelry design imaginable, including pendants, necklaces and even daily-wear gemstone rings. Jasper has the durability and hardness required for mainstream jewelry, making it very resistant to wear and tear. It can be classy, traditional, urban or tribal depending on how you wear it, and it rarely requires any special maintenance. Jasper is a favorite for both men and women because of its versatility and availability as large and oddly-shaped fancy stones.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight in comparison.
Caring and Cleaning Jasper and Gemstone Jewelry Back to Top
Jasper is a variety of quartz. All quartz is considered to be quite durable compared to most other gemstones. Jasper can be easily cleaned using warm, soapy water and a soft cloth or brush. Be sure to rinse it well to remove any soapy residue. Even though quartz has excellent hardness and durability, there are still a variety of other materials easily capable of scratching jasper, including diamond, sapphire, spinel and topaz. Avoid wearing or storing mixed gems together, in order to prevent scratches and fractures to your gemstones and jewelry.
As with most gemstones, avoid the use of any harsh household chemicals (bleach, sulfuric acid etc.) when caring for or cleaning jasper. Jasper is quite porous which allows it to be easily stained, absorbing other chemicals and colors very easily. Avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat, as heating quartz can permanently alter the color of your gemstones. When storing jasper, wrap it in a soft cloth and place it inside a fabric-lined box for added protection. Always remove gems and jewelry before exercising or playing any vigorous sports.
- First Published: October-09-2006
- Last Updated: May-30-2014
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