Jasper

WHAT IS IT?

  • An opaque microcrystalline form of silica (chalcedony) containing mineral coloring and often dendrite formations

  • Coloring: red yellow, brown, and green are common. Blue is rarer.

  • Thought to be formed by hydrothermal circulation in the presence volcanic ash

  • Hardness: 6.5 to 70

  • The birthstone for January

HISTORY

  • Name derived from the Old French “jasper” (Latin - iaspidem, Greek - iaspis, Hebrew - jashpeh), which means spotted or speckled stone

  • Jasper was a favorite gemstone in the ancient world. It has Arabic, Persian Hebrew, Assyrian, Greek, and Latin names

  • In 1800 BC the Minoan culture of Crete produced carved jasper seals

  • In Mehrgarh (in SW Pakistan), betæen 4000 and 5000 BC, green jasper was used to make bow drills

  • While the modern term jasper is associated with opaque quartz, in ancient times the meaning was somewhat ambiguous. iaspis usually referred to a green stone with some transparency.  It could include opaque quartz (jasper) or nephrite jade and possibly chrysoprase

  • The first stone (odem) in the Hebrew High Priests breastplate was red jasper. The tenth stone (tarshish) was yellow jasper.

HOW IS IT CLASSIFIED?

  • There are many ways to classify & name jaspers, some of which are based on:

  • Type of location where is found (Bruneau = canyon, Lahotan =  lake, etc.)

  • Geographic location can even refer to a specific mountain or river.  Examples: Egyptian jasper, African jasper,  Mookaite jasper from the Mooka Creek area of western Australia, Dalmatian, Biggs jasper from Biggs Junction in Oregon, Bruneau jasper from the Bruneau Canyon in Owyhee County Idaho, Cave Creek jasper found near Cave Creek in Maricopa County Arizona, Deschutes jasper from an area east of Biggs Junction along the Deschutes River in Oregon, Morgan Hill jasper from Morgan Hill Calfornia, Owyhee jasper from the Owyhee River in Oregon, Rogueite from the Rogue River in Oregon, Russian jasper, Stone Canyon jasper from Stone Canyon near San Miguel California, Wascoite" from Wasco County in Oregon

  • Fanciful names examples: Forest fire

  • Descriptive names: examples:  autumn, porcelain, poppy (contains bright red poppies)

  • Color: black jasper or basanite, white, blue, red. orange, grey', brown, green, yellow, banded

  • Composition: examples: unakite jasper is a combination of red jasper and epidote, jaspilite is a combination of jasper & hematite

  • Patterning:

    • Picture jasper has complex patterning that has the appearance of an image (Oregon Biggs jasper, Idaho Bruneau jasper, Leopardskin Jasper)

    • Orbicular jasper has spherical inclusions. Examples: "kambaba jasper from Madagascar & S. Africa, ocean jasper from Madagascar, Kinradite has colorless or white rings of quartz,  poppy jasper

    • Brecciated (broken) jasper is formed when stones are fractured then filled-in “healed”) with silica Usually brick red with veins. Commonly found with hematite. Other examples: opal jasper contains opal pieces that are cemented together with silica

    • Rainbow jasper is a multi-colored jasper

    • Rainforest jasper- has moss green and white areas with swirled earthy hues

    • Royal plume jasper-

    • Moss jasper contains inclusions of hornblende that give the appearance of moss

    • Banded jaspers — examples: riband jasper, ribbon jasper, zebra jasper

  • Name of the founder of the stone Examples: morrisonite is a jasper found in Malheur County in eastern Oregon that was discovered by James Morrison

  • Trade name: Often not even real jasper. Examples: sea sediment jasper (an Australian variscite)

WHERE IS IT FOUND?

  • Jasper is common & is found worldwide

  • The best deposits are in India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Egypt, Madagascar, Australia, Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay and the united States (Arkansas, Arizona California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington)

  • Some Washington Locations: Bernier Creek (near Alpha), Beverly Creek (near Casland), Bickleton, Blewett Pass (near Liberty), Boulder Creek (near Marblemount), Burma Road (near Greenwater), Cedar Creek (near Toledo), Cherry Valley (near Duvall), Clallam Bay, Crystal Mt (near Liberty), Cumby, Dallas Ridge (near Greenwater), Devil's Mt. (near Mt Vernon), Dry Creek (near Ellensburg), Fraser Creek (near Alpha), George Creek Cliffs (near Greenwater), Goldendale, Green Canyon (near Ellensburg), Greenwater River, Jack Creek (near Cle Elum), Kaner Flats (near Yakima), Lake Crescent, Lyle River (near Port Angeles), Manashtash Ridge Trail (near Ellensburg), Moses (WA), Mt Pleasant (near Vancouver), Naches River (near Yakjma), Newaukum River (near Onalaska), Pinto Creek (near Randle), Quart Creek Ridge (near Randle), Satsop River (near Elma), Silver Lake (near Castle Rock), Table Mt. (near Vancouver), Teanavay River (near Cle Elum), Tower Hill (near Monroe), Twin Harbors State Park (near Westport), Vail (near Rainer), Warwick (near Goldendale), Whidbey Island beaches (near Coupeville), White Bluffs (near Othello), Yakima, Yellow Hill (near Roslyn)

WHAT IS IT USED FOR?

  • Jewelry & ornaments— cabochons, necklaces, bracelets, cameos, pendants

  • Collector specimens

  • Seals, bowls, vases, snuff boxes, sculptures

  • In ancient times, amulets were made from jasper to ward off evil spirits. It was also believe to cure kidney ailments

  • In ancient Ethiopia, jasper was used for the making of weapons