Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gemstone Highlights: Jasper


The word "Jasper" is a derivative from the Greek word for "speckled or spotted stone."  History traces jasper usage back to Assyrian, Latin, Greek, Egyptian and Hebrew eras.  There are biblical notations of the Hebrew priest's breastplate adorned with the stone (Exodus 28:15-21.)  Also, chapter 156 of the Book of the Dead required the amulet in the form of the Girdle Tie of Isis, placed at the throat of the mummy, to be made of red jasper, whose blood-like coloring would enhance the words of the spell: "You have your blood, Isis; you have your power."  Ancient Egyptians wore jasper scarabs as amulets. Black jasper was used for intaglio (hollowed out carvings) in Roman times. Jasper has also been used to adorn buildings, such as the Saint Wenceslas Chapel in Prague.

What is it?
Due to its grainy inclusions, it is grouped by itself, although it is considered a chalcedony (which is a rock texture made up of minute crystals.)  Jasper is a dense microcrystalline quartz, i.e. composed of very fine intergrowths of quartz and moganite.  On the Mohs Scale, denoting gemstone hardness where talc is a 1 and diamonds are a 10, jasper ranks at a 7.  It is typically opaque with a dull to pearly luster.  Because jasper polishes well, it is a frequent medium of cabochons, mosaics, and ornamental objects.  Color is attributed to finely disseminated organic, hematite or geothite particles.

The percentage of those foreign materials present in the stone determine its color, pattern, texture, and overall appearance.  Jasper is most commonly red and red-brown due to iron deposits, yet there is a variety of multi-colored, spotty and striped stones.  The dispersion of color and pattern labels its value.  Jasper has been given many names based on such things as its color, arrangement of colors, localities of occurrence, names of persons connected with the find, names that might appeal to potential purchasers or items made of jasper.  In researching this gemstone I found a minimum of 56 different names.

A black variety of jasper called "Lydian stone" was used as a touchstone, or a stone whose smooth surface when scratched with gold, silver or certain alloys, exhibits streaks that can be compared to streaks of known metals or alloys and thus provide a means of identification, including even measurements of such things as the material's gold content.

Where is it mined?
Jasper is found world-wide, though substantial mines can be found in Germany, Russia, France, India, Egypt and the United States.

Care and cleaning:
Jasper requires little care.  Simple cleaning of the stone with warm water and a soft cloth is appropriate to maintain its beauty.

Mystical Aspects:
Of course with 56+ names, I found that different stones have different meanings, mystical properties and healing powers attributed to them.  General mythology, especially with regard to the amulets, state that jasper is beneficial in the treatment of infertility.  It is also generally referenced as being protective in its ability to keep evil spirits away and protect against snake and spider bites.  As a balancing stone, it is said to be able to restore the body's energy, promote stabilization and healing, with the safest approach to wear the gemstone in skin contact to the troubled part of the body.  Noteworthy applications included the pancreas, sciatica and troubled toenails.  It is the mystical birthstone of October, and the "Bloodstone" jasper is the traditional birthstone of March. offers many non-pierced gemstone earrings including those made with Jasper.  To see them visit our gemstones & pearls page

Information Sources
"International Colored Gemstone Association"