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Jasper Gemstone Information

Jasper Gemstones
Natural Jasper Gemstones

Jasper Introduction

The word Jasper means spotted or speckled stone and when you see the huge variety of gemstones that appear under this name you can understand why. The swirling patterns, the flecks of color, daubs of red, green and yellow, the woody or organic looking patches all make this a truly unique gemstone.

These unique colors and patterns plus its hardness and polish have made it a favorite gemstone for millennia, used by Ancient Egyptians and Greeks. It is mentioned several times in the bible and was fashioned into tools, seals, beads and ornaments from the Harappan Empire in the Indus River valley to the Minoan Kingdom of the Greek Island of Crete.

In ancient times it was considered very rare and precious but was probably confused with other gemstones such as jade, nephrite and carnelian. Nowadays, with scientific help, we can identify it a bit more easily (although it is still a tricky customer) and with discoveries of Jasper all over the world it is quite affordable yet no less beautiful.

Jasper Colors

Jasper Colors
Jasper Colors

Jasper gemstones can come in almost any color but do tend to be earthy tones; reds, browns, oranges, yellows and greens are the most common although blues and purples are not unheard of. The colors are not restricted to just one, Jasper tends to have two, three or even more colors on the same gemstone.

Jasper is a type of Chalcedony but contains a high percentage of other material, up to 20 per cent, and it is this that gives this gemstone its color variations. The most common impurity is iron which gives Jasper its red, brown and yellow hues. If the iron has oxidized during formation, the Jasper gemstone can look green and manganese can cause the blue colors. Other oxides, dioxides, metals and even organic material can get mixed up with the Jasper quartz as it grows and cause all sorts of colors and patterns.

Color is very important in the world of gemstones and brightly colored or unusual colored Jasper will be valued more than any dull colored specimen (although someone may be looking for those muted colors) but Jasper is a reasonably priced gemstone so even great coloring does not make it terribly expensive.

Jasper Species

Classifying Jasper can be a little complicated so it might be time for a simple geology lesson.

Quartz is made of a mixture of silicon and oxygen and comes in two types, one with large crystals such as amethyst, citrine, rose quartz and so on and one with tiny crystals such as Chalcedony. Jasper is a type of Chalcedony along with other very similar gemstones such as Agate, Carnelian, Onyx and many others.

The Quartz with larger crystals tends to be transparent to translucent while Quartzes with tiny crystals are usually translucent to opaque. Jasper is opaque.

Jasper is often further broken down into varieties according to color, pattern and origin and all told there are probably thousands of different names. It is pretty obvious how Yellow Jasper, Red Jasper and Green Jasper get their names as well as the black and white striped Zebra Jasper and the mottled Leopard Jasper.

The popular Bumblebee Jasper is a lovely black and orange striped gemstone but is NOT really a form of Jasper. Other varieties include Jaspilite, Poppy and Brecciated Jasper.

Some Jaspers get their name from where they are found such as:

  • Brazilian Jasper - with its green patches
  • African Jasper - with its dark hues
  • Russian Jasper - often with reddish spots

These can get even more localized with names reflecting distinct points of origin such as:

  • Biggs Jasper - muted gold, brown and ebony almost wooden-looking colors from Oregon
  • Bruneau Jasper - caramel and cream layers from Idaho
  • Morgan Hill Jasper - circles of red and yellow from California

Then we have Picture Jasper which seem to display lovely scenes in the best examples:

  • Owyhee Jasper - Jasper with scenes of deserts and blue skies from the Rockies
  • Dendritic Jasper - with feathery patterns formed by ancient sea creatures
  • Flame Jasper - with its swirls of red and orange.

Another common misnomer in the gemstone world is Dalmation Jasper which, like the Bumblebee Jasper is not Jasper at all.

The list of varieties is endless which reflects the colors, patterns and styles available in this unique gemstone. These names can help when looking for a particular look but basically Jasper is just a lovely multicolored gemstone.

Jasper Clarity and Cut

Gemstone Clarity

Gemstones usually fall into one of three categories of clarity with variations within that category. Opaque gemstones do not allow any light to pass through even if you hold it up to a light source. Translucent gemstones allow some light to shine through but you cannot clearly see through the gemstone. Transparent Gemstones allow light to pass through uninhibited so you can look through them and see objects or read words on the other side.

Jasper differs from some of its cousins in the chalcedony family in that it is opaque, you cannot see through a Jasper gemstone. Because of this, Jasper is nearly always cut into rounded shapes or cabochons and then polished. The interesting colors and swirls found in some Jasper gemstones mean that they can be carved into interesting free form or odd shapes perfect for unique jewelry.

Jasper is technically an opaque gemstone but because it has so many mineral impurities it can be difficult to define the boundary between translucent and opaque. The Jasper gemstone may have patches that appear more translucent than opaque or the edges seem to be allowing light to pass through.

What is the spiritual meaning of Jasper?

Jasper is a form of Chalcedony quartz with up to 20 percent mineral impurities, so interpreting its spiritual power is not that straightforward and each individual gemstone will have its own unique strengths.

It does however have a couple of all encompassing traits that we can share. It is known as the 'Nurturing Gemstone' giving you the encouragement you need to develop every facet of your life, be it personal or professional.

Jasper is a gemstone of relaxation and calmness so those with very busy lifestyles or jobs will benefit from an hour or two with one as part of meditation or just to hold while lying down - it will clear your mind of its stresses and revitalize you.

Its long history with mankind reveals Jasper's sacred and protective spirituality, it has been carved into amulets to be worn by holy men and kings and buried with Mummies to help them into the afterlife. Native Americans used Jasper' gemstones in their rain-making ceremonies and they were used as dowsing pendulums in traditional water finding divination.

Jasper and the Chakras

Chakras are the energy centers in your body also known as Qi or Prana. There are seven Chakras throughout the body each influencing a particular physical, emotional or mental state and each has an associated color. The seven chakras are as follows, Crown linked with the color purple, Third Eye (indigo), Throat (blue), Heart (green), Solar Plexus (yellow), Sacral (orange) and Root (red). Which color is most dominant in your Jasper gemstone will determine which chakra it will have most influence on.

The varied colors of Jasper mean it will have influence on several of your Chakras and the mineral properties will also affect change. As a generally earthy colored gemstone, Jasper is usually connected to the Root Chakra, which is associated with the home, security, basic survival. If you are feeling anxious about your job, your house or your marriage relationship this gemstone is for you.

If the Jasper is clearly another color - strongly yellow or particularly green then it will influence other Chakras, the Solar Plexus and the Heart Chakras respectively.

Health Benefits of Jasper

The mixed bag of chemicals and minerals found in Jasper means it can affect several health issues but its usual connection is with the internal organs, especially rejuvenating deteriorating tissue in liver, spleen and kidney. Stomach and digestive problems including heartburn and acid reflux can be alleviated as well as urinary tract infections.

The connection between mental well being and physical well being is well established and jasper's ability to give one the feeling of being healthy and emotionally stable will translate into a healthy body too.

We are often asked how to use gemstones for spiritual or health benefits and while we are certainly not experts in this field we have gained some experience and knowledge. Of course wearing the gemstone as a piece of jewelry is the easiest way for the crystal to influence your body.

Alternatively they can be placed in your purse or pocket and used as a touchstone throughout the day. Hold crystals or place them in your lap while meditating. Easiest of all, just lay down with crystals on your body, lined up with the chakra points if possible.

Jasper should be cleaned every two weeks to keep it at its maximum potential. You can do this by running the stone under tepid water and drying it in the sun for about an hour. The wide variety of Jasper gemstones means we cannot be any more specific about cleansing them - for example using salt or flames may work for some Jasper but not for others.

Jasper Price

Jasper Price List

Color

Weight range

Price range / USD

All colors

1ct +

$0.2 - 3.0/ct

Jasper is a very reasonably priced gemstone that is readily available with only exceptional examples getting a premium price. The price, as with most gemstones, depends upon the color with brighter colors getting the higher values. In addition the more interesting patterns can raise the prices somewhat especially the landscape or picture versions.

Another factor in the pricing is the cut or carving of the gemstone. The better specimens are shaped to maximize the color and pattern and this can raise the price a little but all in all it is a very affordable gemstone.

This affordability is one of the reasons this gemstone is so popular with artisan or hobby jewelers - the unique appearance, large sizes and inexpensive price make it ideal for jewelry projects.

See more Odd Shaped Gemstone for Jewelry Making here.

Jasper Discovery and History

History

Jasper has been used as a gemstone and material for ornaments and tools for all of our known history stretching back to our first cities in the Indus Valley of present day Pakistan and even further with the beads of Neolithic man.

Some of the earliest discovered mining sites on earth are believed to be those found in Pennsylvania, USA, where it appears Paleolithic people - the ancestors of modern Native Americans - were digging up Jasper to use as knives and arrowheads as well as jewelry as early as 12,000 years ago!

The ancient kingdom of Sumeria is the origin of western civilization and its chief city, Ur, is said to be the birthplace of Abraham, patriarch of the Christian, Jewish and Islamic religions. At the time of its existence some 2000 years before Jesus Christ, the inhabitants believed the earth was flat and covered in a dome of Jasper covered in stars (obviously the markings and spots of Jasper led to this belief).

If you visit any major museum in the world and take a walk around the ancient artifacts section you will almost certainly come across some pieces of Jasper. Roman and Minoan rings, seals and cameos were very popular, decorations on sword hilts, amulets for good luck and the cutting edge on bow-drills.

The word itself first enters the English language in the 14th century from the French 'jaspre' and the Latin 'jaspis' and the earlier Greek 'iaspis' all meaning spotted or speckled gemstone. Further back we can see a similar word used in the bible in Hebrew, Yashpeh or Yashepeh which means 'to polish' and was used to refer to precious gemstones.

Where is Jasper found?

The Globe

Jasper in one form or another can be found almost anywhere in the world. The hundreds of named varieties are often sourced from just one or two locations and if the Jasper has a specific name, Biggs Jasper or Cave Creek Jasper then it really should only come from that location.

In general, Jasper's most important sources are India, Australia, Venezuela, Russia, Brazil and Uruguay. The tropical island off southern Africa, Madagascar, is the source of most Ocean Jasper and Indonesia provides fantastic multicolored Jasper while the USA is one of the better producers of interesting localized Jasper varieties.

How is Jasper formed?

Rock Cycle

Like most gemstones, Jasper formed when hot molten rock, known as magma, rose to the surface crust of the earth and began to cool. As the soft, warm molten rock cools and hardens, gas bubbles form as well as cracks and cavities where magma flows overlapped or cooled at different rates. The magma hardens into rock and the gasses escape leaving little pockets of space. Into these pockets fluids such as silica, rich in dissolved quartz molecules, flowed and settled.

Jasper is very rich in impurities and foreign material - it is what gives it its variety of colors - which form part of the gemstone as it is being formed over millions of years. Iron, iron oxide and manganese are typical mineral impurities. In addition, the cooled magma can be reheated by hydrothermal activity, breaking down the crystal structure and twisting into the intriguing swirls we sometimes see in the gemstone.

Sometimes the Jasper gemstones are superheated, soften again and get mixed up with various rock types or even other gemstones like Agate or Opal. The surrounding volcanic activity can throw up tons of ash which can seep into the crystal formation and give the Jasper some interesting markings. Mud, organic matter, even wood can also affect the process and outcome of Jasper gemstones.

When the Jasper quartz material has fully formed it is generally harder than the surrounding rock. Wind, rain and ice slowly erodes away everything but the hard gemstone material. These Jasper gemstones then get washed away by streams and creeks and sit on river beds waiting to be collected by alluvial miners millions of years later.

Can Jasper be treated?

Jasper is not usually enhanced in anyway other than the usual cutting and polishing. There are some cases of Jasper being dyed to boost its color or to emphasize a particular pattern but since it is such an inexpensive gemstone it is not usually worth the time and effort.

Similarly, imitations are not very common but keep an eye out for some plastic or glass versions that some very unscrupulous dealers might want to sell you.

If any gemstones sold by GemSelect receive any such treatment we will always disclose this information.

What Jewelry is Jasper suitable for?

Jasper gemstones are rated about 7 on the Mohs hardness scale meaning they are durable enough to be used in almost any type of jewelry you choose. They are an ancient and respected gemstone so you would be following a long line of tradition to use this gemstone is some form of jewelry.

See our detailed article on the Mohs hardness scale right here

Usually Jasper is shaped into ovals or dome shaped cabochons but can also be carved into fancy shapes or left free form to help create fascinating one-off jewelry pieces. They are quite affordable so you can let your imagination run wild with these gorgeous uniquely colored and patterned gemstones.

Their large sizes, interesting patterns and variety of colors make them a favorite amongst craftsmen and women looking to create one-off jewelry designs. Such is their array of individual characteristics, there is almost no chance of making two pieces that look the same.

Did you know? Interesting facts about Jasper

Checking the purity of gold
Black Jasper was once used as a 'touchstone' to determine the quality of gold or silver. The gold alloy would be rubbed onto the black Jasper and the streak compared with others of known purity.
Christians believe the rock upon which St Peter built his church was made of Jasper.
Jasper can be found on every continent in the world.
Even older than we thought
Primitive stone axes made from Jasper have been found in Omo Valley in Ethiopia and dated to 2.5 million years old.
Bloodstone is a type of Jasper and is the birthstone for March.
Jasper is also a mystical birthstone for October.

How to care for Jasper

Jasper is a type of quartz and is considered a hard and durable gemstone. Jasper can be cleaned very easily using warm soapy water and a soft brush. Be sure to not use any other objects that are harder than Jasper for scrubbing or cleaning.

As with most gemstones, you should not use any household chemicals when caring for or cleaning your Jasper gemstone or many other gemstone jewelry pieces. Jasper should not be exposed to prolonged periods of heat as it may cause permanent damage to the gemstone so no steam cleaners.

Jasper should be stored inside a fabric-lined box or wrapped in a soft cloth. It is rated about 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, so Jasper should be kept away from other gemstones and jewelry to ensure it does not scratch any softer gemstones or be scratched by other harder gemstones.

How can you tell a real Jasper?

Is this gem real?

Obviously buying gemstones from a reputable dealer is the best approach but this is not always possible when you are searching the net or in the stores looking for a great gemstone or a bargain!

Jasper is not a very expensive gemstone so it is hardly worth the expense of an appraisal or certification so a few handy tips in identifying a Jasper would be useful.

Jasper is a strong durable gemstone rated about 7 on the Mohs hardness scale so it will not scratch easily with a knife or a nail. It will also scratch a piece of common glass so that could be a quick test. (Check with the owner of the Jasper or the test material before you start scratching away as it may annoy them - or be very discrete).

Jasper is a quartz and quite dense so if you are able to hold it, it should feel heavy. It is also a slow conductor of heat so will not warm up quickly in your hand but remain quite cool.

Agate, Chalcedony, Onyx, Sard, Carnelian are all very similar gemstones and are often misidentified with one another. This is not too much of an issue as far as money goes as they are all similarly priced but you might really want a Jasper gemstone and not an Agate. A simple test to tell a Jasper from an Agate is to hold it up to the light, if light passes through at all it is an Agate (even just at the edges) and if no light shines through at all it is a Jasper. Jasper is such a mixed bag of minerals there will be exceptions to this rule!

This is not a complete guide on how to spot a real gemstone but I hope it helps.

At GemSelect, we stand by our gemstones as being as we describe them, any treatments are disclosed and our return policy means you can feel quite assured when ordering from us.

What is so special about Jasper?

Jasper is a very special gemstone, inexpensive but with history and fame attached to it. This gemstone connects us to our past - stretching back to a time when we could barely be described as human beings - and yet reflects our present with the modern taste for individuality and originality.

The design, color and uniqueness of Jasper leaps out as you turn it in your hand and the knowledge it was forged over millions of years by heat and pressure by planet earth itself will flow from the gemstone into your body.

Can Jasper change color?

Can this gem change color?

Some gemstones show a distinct or dramatic change in color under different light sources. Look at a garnet under electric or artificial light and it could look red, take it outside into the sunlight and all of a sudden it is green! This remarkable effect only occurs in a few gemstones, Alexandrite, Garnet and some Sapphires being the most well known but does NOT occur in Jasper.

Jasper - Gemological Properties

Chemical Formula:

SiO2 - Silicon dioxide

Crystal Structure:

Trigonal - microcrystalline aggregate

Color:

All colors, mostly striped or spotted

Hardness:

6.5 [fraction] to 7 on the Mohs scale

Refractive Index:

1.54 (approximate)

Density:

2.58 to 2.91

Cleavage:

None

Transparency:

Opaque

Double Refraction or Birefringence:

None

Luster:

Dull, vitreous

Fluorescence:

None

  • First Published: February-03-2020
  • Last Updated: February-03-2020
  • © 2005-2020 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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Size and Weight

Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

Dimensions are given as;
length x width x depth,
except for round stones which are;
diameter x depth

Select gems by size, not by weight!
Gem varieties vary in density, so carat weight is not a good indication of size

Note: 1ct = 0.2g

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