Jasper Gemstones - Jasper is an ornamental rock
Mostly made of Chalcedony, Jasper is an ornamental rock also described as a microcrystalline quartz, and in association with other minerals, which also have the characteristic of having colorful patterns and bands. In the ancient times, jasper was very popular and has a history that can be traced to the Latin, Greek, Assyrian, Hebrew and Persian civilizations.
The pattern that a jasper specimen has is the one that gives it its name. Landscape jasper is the most popular, which has a small panorama in the rock. Other varieties of jasper include the Orbicular, Picture, Blood and Ribbon jasper. This is a mineral that can be found in many countries, and it is used to create adornments for buildings, such as the Saint Wenceslas Chapel in Prague, as well as bowls.
Jasper as a gemstone
Jasper has been a popular gemstone and was worn since the biblical times, in all its wonderful varieties.
The jasper gemstone comes in various shapes, colors and sizes, and as mentioned above, it is names after the patters that are seen on the surface. The landscape jasper variety, which is very popular portrays and scenery or image that looks like the area from which it was mined; this is a very fascinating feature indeed. Although it may seem unnatural, with a little bit of imagination, the image can be seen clearly.
Jasper belongs to the Chalcedony family of gemstones but because it has so many varieties and names, it is sometimes considered to be a separate family on its own. It is said that all jasper gemstones have a particular vibration with the body of the wearer. The myths and legends surrounding this gemstone include those of shamans and medicine men using the gem in making people get better from disease. Many Crystal Healers buy into these myths and legends whole-heatedly, but others simply look at the stone as being a wonderful and beautiful creation of Mother Nature.
In the Ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek civilizations, Jasper is a mineral that has been used in making mosaics, and other ornamental designs. In the Biblical Books of Revelations, Ezekiel and Exodus, jasper has been mentioned several times. It is due to its reference in the Bible that the various myths and legends about its healing powers carry so much weight.
Jasper is a gemstone that has an opaque quality, and it also has a waxy luster; this is the reason why this gemstone is popularly cut as a cabochon. The average size of jasper falls in the range of double figures, and due to this large size, it is used for necklaces, brooches and pendants, more than it is used to make rings or earrings.
All over the world, jasper is found in large deposits; The Ocean Jasper, which is also called the Orbicular Jasper is particularly noted as being found mainly in Madagascar. In Kazakhstan, the green and red jasper varieties are the most abundant, and the Urals of Russia are well known as having sizeable quantities of the White, Brown and Red jasper varieties. Australia, Paraguay, Germany Mexico, Egypt and Venezuela are other countries in the word where jasper is found in abundance.
A deeper look at the mineral jasper
Jasper is characterized as being and aggregate mineral of Micro quartz, and/or Chalcedony, in conjunction with other minerals. Jasper is an impure variety of silica, which is opaque, and has colors that commonly feature red, brown, yellow, green, or white; the blue color is very rare. The red color in jasper is caused by inclusions of iron 3. This minerals is usually used for purposes of naming ornaments or gemstones and usually breaks apart with a smooth surface. This is a gemstone with a high luster, and is particularly suited for making vases, snuff boxes, and seals. It has a wide range when considering specific gravity; 2.5 to 2.9. The green jasper, which has red spots, in conjunction with heliotrope also known as bloodstone, are known as the traditional birthstones for the month of March. The banded formation of rock that has banded iron within it, and has distinctive bands of the mineral jasper, is called Jaspilite.
The etymology and history of jasper
Jasper, is a name that can be translated as ‘speckled or spotted stone’. This is a name that comes from the Old French name, Jasper, which is a variant of the Anglo-Norman name Jasper. In Latin, it is written as Iapsis, which comes from the feminine Greek noun, also spelt the same. The name can be traced to an oriental language, which has been traced to Hebrew names of Yushpah and Akkadian Yashupu.
Between the 4th and 5th millennium, Jasper was used in making bow drill in Mehrgarh. In the ancient world, jasper was a much valued gemstone, with a name that was highly mentioned in the Assyrian, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin and Greek cultures. Around 1800 BC, jasper was used to make seals, on the Minoan Crete Island, and the seals have been uncovered in archaeological digs at the palace found in Knossos.
Today, jasper is a name that is reserved for the opaque quartz variety, but in ancient times, the name Iapsis was used to describe any stone that had great translucency, including nephrite. In the past, the name jasper was reserved for the green variety, and it was compared to other green gemstones including the emerald. In the Niebelungenlied, jasper was referred to as a clear and green gemstone. It is thought that the stones that were referred to as clear jasper, in the ancient times, would today be characterized as chalcedony, or the jasper variety, that closely resembles emerald, which may have been similar to the mineral known as Chyrsoprase. The green jasper was the one referred to when the name Yushpah was used. According to Flinders Petrie, the Odem, which was the first stone worn on the breast plate of the High Priest, was actually a red jasper stone, and the Tarshish, which was the tenth stone was actually yellow jasper.
The types of jasper gemstones
Generally speaking, jasper is a rock of any color, which is opaque, and the colors can be traced back to the minerals which were found in the original ash and sediments. The patterns in jaspers are attributed to the consolidation process, which led to the depositional and flowing patters in the original volcanic ash and sediment rich in silica. It is said that for jasper to be formed properly, there must be a hydrothermal circulation present.
The modification of jasper is possible, through the diffusion of minerals, which are placed in discontinuities within the rock, which gives it the appearance of vegetative or dendritic growth. Usually, the original materials may be distorted and fractured, after being deposited, forming a large variety of wonderful patterns, which are later filled with minerals of other colors. With time, weathering creates superficial rinds which have very intense coloration.
It is quite a challenge to name and classify jasper. The terms that are given to various well-defined jasper specimens include the geographic area in which it was found, which can sometimes be very restrictive. For example, the Bruneau jasper is that which is found in a canyon, and the Lahontan jasper is that which is found in rivers and lakes. There are jasper varieties named after the mountains from which they are found. Other fancy names of jasper are Forest Fire, and Rainbow; you may also find the terms Porcelain or Autumn being used. You may also find names being added depending on which country the gemstone originated from, such as, Red African or Brown Egyptian.
All jasper varieties that have an image, such as the banding or depositional patterns caused by water and wind, or the dendritic and color of the patters are simply known as picture jaspers. When the stone is cut, it is possible to make out some scenes or pictures, but with a lot of imagination. The Leopard Skin jasper has a diffusion of colors that comes from the center and forms a characteristic orbicular look. The Leisegang jasper has a linear banding that seems to stem from a fracture in the rock. The picture jaspers are common in many parts of the world but you will find that specific types can also be tied to the geographic locality from whence the stone came from. The Biggs jasper is found from Oregon. The Bruneau jasper comes from Idaho, in the Bruneau Canyon, which is near the Bruneau River. These are classic types of picture jasper varieties and others can be seen at the Llanddwyn Island in Wales.
It is also possible to find some jasper varieties being given the name basanite; the Cherty jasper or Black Flinty japer are some examples of jasper, found in several states in New England, USA, that bear the name basanite. These are jasper varieties that are also called, unofficially, as the Lydian Stone, or Lydite; these are minerals that have been used in the past as touchstones to test the purity of metallic alloys.