From rich reds to deep forest greens, ochres and duck egg blues, wood grain patterns to swirls and stripes, little planets to miniature works of art, this gemstone offers variety like no other. That palette of earth tones and rich colours coupled with the unique patterns, stripes and grains, make it irresistible and versatile to my jewellery designs. I find it truly fascinating.
A bit of a mix up - beauty from impurity
And all that variety comes from the fact that Jasper is a bit of a mash up! Like many gemstones, Jasper is formed when immensely hot molten magma, rises to the surface crust of the earth and then starts to cool. In essence, Jasper is a form of Chalcedony (itself a fine crystal form of Quartz) but it earns its name as ‘the speckled stone’ because its high content of impurities result in all manner of colours and patterns. As much as 20% of Jasper Quartz is made up of other materials – oxides, dioxides, metals and even organic material. From iron impurities we get rich reds, russet browns and mustard hues. Sometimes the iron content is oxidised as the gemstone forms and then the reds turn green. Manganese might turn it blue. The range of unique colours and patterns are truly endless.
What's in a Name?
The word Jasper comes from the French 'jaspre' and the Latin 'jaspis' meaning spotted or speckled gemstone. And as well as being so varied in pattern and colour, Jasper is a fairly hard gemstone (it measures 6.5 to 7 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale) which makes it a great stone to polish. In ancient times it was a precious material used to make tools, seals, beads and ornaments.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word Yashpeh or Yashepeh (in Hebrew) was used to refer to precious gemstones including jade, nephrite and carnelian.
Jasper varieties have some pretty descriptive names. Zebra Jasper for example is...well...striped. Picture Jasper is characterised by its sandy earth tones like little desert landscapes. Royal Imperial Jasper forms in nodules in Mexico and is characterised by pale earthy tones of mossy greens, pink, brown, and cream. It also displays distinct egg like patterns.
A Healing Stone
Many believe Jasper to be a powerful healing stone. Connected to the Root Chakra, Jasper is associated with the earth, home, our sense of personal security and well being. It is often referred to as a Nurturing stone - one that can boost our enthusiasm for life.