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The Jasper gemstone is one of the most used gemstones in jewelry by both hobbyists and professionals. It’s an affordable and easily available stone that makes for intriguing jewelry, thanks to its varied hues and intriguing patterns.
In this detailed guide, we’ll cover how to purchase Jasper jewelry and what you need to look out for when evaluating Jasper quality.
What Is a Jasper Gemstone?
The Jasper gemstone is an aggregate of multigranular chalcedony or quartz – different specialists categorize it differently, especially when it comes to its multiple variations. It’s an opaque variety of silica and it usually contains up to 20% of foreign materials which are what give the Jasper gemstone its many color variations. For example, the most famous jasper variety, red jasper, gets its hue from the presence of iron.
Because of their unique chemical makeup, Jasper gemstones can come in literally thousands of variations based not just on their color but also on their geographical origin, their patterns, their shape, and so on.
Some of the more famous types of Jasper gemstones to look for include Biggs Jasper, African Jasper, Brazilian Jasper, Imperial Jasper, Carrasite Jasper, Jasper Beads, Mookaite Jasper, Kambaba Jasper, Ocean Jasper, Noreena Jasper, Picture Jasper and Zebra Jasper. We’ll talk about Jasper types in more detail below.
Funnily enough, jasper is often underappreciated outside of the jewelry industry. That’s probably because it’s not a precious gemstone, with its uses extending to other products such as such as vases, snuff boxes and seals.
So why is it called Jasper?
The name Jasper means “spotted or speckled stone”. Depending on who you ask, the origins of this name can be either from Ancient Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin or from Old French, although some even think that it just comes from the English name “Jasper”.
Jasper Gemstones In Jewelry
Jasper gemstones can be used in different types of jewelry, whether chic and classic or boho and hippie. Because most jasper contains patterns and spots, jasper jewelry is often unique, with not two being exactly alike.
Jasper is commonly shaped into beads in use in necklaces or bracelets. They can also be very effective as centerpieces in earrings and rings.
Jasper is a durable gemstone, ranking at 7 on the Mohs scale. As such, it makes for a relatively good engagement ring, for those wishing for something different. However, the stone still requires reasonable care and maintenance (more on this below) to ensure that it remains fracture and scratch free.
Jasper is also an excellent gemstone for inlay work, as featured in these male and female jasper inlay wedding bands.
Types of Jasper
Just like quartz or agate, there are hundreds of Jasper varieties available, making it a versatile gemstone. Jasper comes in a range of hues and natural patterns, giving you endless options to choose from when shopping.
It would take too long to give an exhaustive list here, but here’s a quick rundown of some of the main Jasper types:
- Agate Jasper – This refers to stones that combines both agate and Jasper. It can also refer to Jasper gemstones that display multicolor or banded patterns, similar to agate.
- Biggs Jasper – This refers to Jasper found in the Biggs Junction area in Oregon. It’s found in shades of brown with beautiful patterns.
- Green Jasper – A fully opaque type of Jasper found in varying shades of green. Green Jasper is a highly popular variety and was extensively used in the past.
- Ocean Jasper – This variety showcases patterns with concentric circles. It’s found on Madagascar coasts.
- Zebra Jasper – Refers to the coloring and the pattern, with alternating dark brown and light brown to white Jasper strips.
- Morrisonite – This is a multicolored Jasper variety found only in the Owyhee River gorge in Oregon.
- Picture Jasper – This type of Jasper has beautiful patterns resembling pictures.
How to Choose Jasper Gemstone Color
As a stone that can come in many different colors, the Jasper gemstone gives the consumer plenty of choices.
It comes in most of the main colors such as red, brown, yellow, green, and rarely even blue. What’s more, even though the Jasper gemstone can be solid in color, it almost always includes various spots, streaks, and other deviations which are what gives it its unique look.
The red, green and blue varieties are the most sought-after, with yellow being sometimes and ignored, and brown – much more so. There are also white, black, gray and orange Jasper gemstones.
Nowadays, the red Jasper gemstone variations are the most frequently seen and used largely because they are the most abundantly found in nature.
Green Jasper gemstones seemed to have been very popular as well, to a point where you can be left with the impression that this is actually the more common color variety.
Jasper gemstone antiques are almost always green and the stone was often compared to emeralds and other green gemstones. Today, the green variation of the Jasper gemstone is often categorized as chalcedony and emerald-like Jasper gemstones are known to be rarer than red ones.
Which color you should choose, however, depends entirely on your personal preferences and jewelry design choices. All Jasper gemstones are typically not chosen for their prestige, so go with whichever color works better for you.
Jasper Gemstones and Clarity
The Jasper gemstone refractive index is categorized as 1.54 – 1.55. It has a double refraction of 0.009 and is opaque in its transparency. In other words, clarity is not the strongest suit of the Jasper gemstone. With up to 20% inclusions in many Jasper gemstones that’s just the nature of the stone.
Don’t look for brilliance or light performance with this gemstone. It’s their rich colors and complex streaks and spot patterns that make them so beautiful.
There are clear Jasper gemstones, ones with almost no inclusions, which are sought after by certain jewelers, especially when they are white in color. In these cases, the stone can look almost clear, but most of the time but these are rare and not the typical look of Jasper.
Jasper Gemstone Cut
Jasper gemstones are typically cut in beads or cabochons as they are typically used in necklaces, bracelets, rings and pendants. They are sometimes faceted to add depth and texture to the stone, but smooth cuts bring out the patterns and body color of the stone best.
You’ll also find carvings made of jasper, as the stone lends itself well to being shaped easily.
Jasper Gemstone Carat Sizes
Jasper gemstones can come in all carat sizes since they are commonly found. However, it’s important to note that a Jasper gemstone’s carat size can also be a bit deceptive, especially for colored stones. They can have varied size-to-weight ratios – some stones can be large but light while others are smaller but can be heavier. In other words, don’t rely on the carat weight to judge the Jasper’s size. Focus on its dimensional size instead.
Cleaning and Caring for Jasper Gemstone Jewelry
When it comes to cleaning a Jasper gemstone we’d generally advise against the use of ultrasonic cleaners or steam cleaners. Instead, simple and careful use of a warm, soapy water mixture with a soft cloth or a brush should be enough.
As a variety of quartz, Jasper is relatively hard and durable so as long as the soap mixture isn’t too strong and abrasive, it should be alright. Remember not to soak a Jasper gemstone, however, as it’s also porous and can easily absorb other materials and get stains.
As far as general maintenance and caring are concerned, make sure to avoid prolonged heat exposure as heating Jasper can lead to a change in color. Also, while quartz stones like the Jasper gemstone are stronger than most, they can still be scratched by diamonds, sapphires, topaz or spinel stones so it’s smart to not store them in the same box or pouch. If you have to store a Jasper gemstone together with diamonds, for example, it’s advisable to at least wrap them in cloth beforehand.
What’s the Difference Between Jasper vs. Agate?
Jasper and agate are both made of quartz and have very similar composition. Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals on earth, consisting of macrocrystalline and cryptocrystalline varieties.
Both Jasper and agate are gemstones in the cryptocrystalline category, of the variety known as chalcedony. These gemstones have very fine grains and are smooth and lustrous.
So how do you differentiate between Jasper and agate?
It comes down to transparency and the patterns on the stone.
Agate is translucent and has banded patterns, while Jasper is opaque and has a variety of patterns, including banded, spotted and striated.
One of the ways to tell the two apart is by holding a light behind the stone. If the light shines through, it’s an agate. If it doesn’t, it’s Jasper.
Are There Enhanced or Imitation Jasper Gemstones?
Jasper gemstones aren’t purposefully enhanced as often as other gemstones. The main type of enhancement you can expect is for the stone to be dyed. This can be done either to achieve a specific artistic effect, enhancing the body tone or to imitate a different type of gemstone.
Jasper imitations are not common as the gemstone is quite affordable and easily available. However, you may come across plastic or glass imitations, so watch out for these. Check with your retailer as to the origin of the gemstone and purchase from a reputable store.
Jasper Gemstone Meaning and Symbolism
Because of its unique natural artistry, the Jasper gemstone is often referred to as the “Supreme Nurturer”. It’s categorized as an elemental Earth stone and it’s believed to have a warm, harmonious energy that resonates with our primal selves.
In the past, Jasper gemstones were worn by kings, priests, and shamans from multiple civilizations because of the properties the stones are said to possess. It’s a part of the symbolism of the “Supreme Nurturer” that it helps ground the wearer’s aura, it provides stability, comfort, and security, and it also has strength and healing properties. Its presence in a person’s aura is meant to add balance, peace, and wholeness.
In Christianity, the Jasper gemstone is believed to be the rock on which apostle Peter would build his Church. In other religions, Jasper gemstones were carved and engraved with symbols from the Egyptian book of the dead and buried with people’s mummified remains to give them safe passage through to the afterlife. In Judaism, a Jasper gemstone was the twelfth stone in the Breastplate of the Jewish High Priest.
*Disclaimer: Jewelry Shopping Guide does not guarantee or validate any of the claims related to the metaphysical and alternative healing powers of this or any other gemstone. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice.
Where to Buy Jasper Jewelry
If you’re looking for Jasper gemstone jewelry, artisan shops like those on Etsy or other local handmade stores are probably your best bet, giving you endless options and competitive pricing. Since the Jasper gemstone is not a highly priced stone you don’t need to look for big brand vendors and you mostly need to focus on looking for a design that suits your personal taste.
Etsy has a huge assortment of vendors that offer a wide variety of Jasper jewelry. The Jasper jewelry here ranges from a few dollars to pieces that cost hundreds of dollars and come in a variety of styles.
As it is one of the biggest online retailers worldwide, it’s not surprising that you can find all kinds of Jasper jewelry and artifacts on Amazon. There’s something for everyone here.