Jasper Key Facts

  • Can be brown, blue, yellow or green in colour
  • Red jasper occurs in India
  • Protects against drought

General Information on Jasper

Jasper is a fine grained opaque variety of chalcedony. It occurs in shades of brown, greyish-blue, red, yellow and green, and a mixture of all of these. The mineral forms with a smooth surface and as well as being used as a gemstone is popular for its decorative appeal in objects such as vases, seals and snuff boxes. When the colours are in stripes or bands it is called striped or banded jasper and is often used in carvings, cameos and intaglios, which can display its layered structure.

The name means 'spotted or speckled stone' and is derived from the Greek 'iaspis'. It has been known since ancient times and is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Revelation (21:11); the new Jerusalem descending from Heaven is described as 'It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal'.

Jasper can appear as an opaque rock with differing shades due to mineral impurities. Patterns can arise from the formation process and from flow patterns in the sediment or volcanic ash that was saturated with silica to form jasper. A brown jasper that occurs as nodules in the Libyan desert and Nile valley is known as Egyptian jasper. Orbicular jasper or 'leopard jasper' is usually an opaque combination of tan, grey, black or reddish brown circles or 'spots' of colour.

Red jasper occurs in India and Venezuela; various colours occur in the USA, especially California; Russia; France and Germany and can be found on many UK beaches, especially in Wales.

It is believed to protect against sight defects and drought.

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