The word Jasper means, “spotted or speckled stone”, it comes from the Greek word iaspis, and Latin iaspidem. Jasper is one of the oldest known gemstones, and was very popular in ancient times. It has been written about in Greek, Hebrew, Assyrian, Persian and Latin prints, as well as in the Bible. But in those ancient times, what was referred to as jasper was a totally different stone from what we call jasper today; it referred only to the green transparent varieties. Jasper is one of the birthstones for the Sun Sign of Virgo and the Mystical birthstone for the month of October. There are many varieties and names for jasper; they make reference to its patterns or to its locations of origin.
Jasper is as an opaque and fine-grained variety of Chalcedony. Some scientists put it in a group by itself within the quartz group because of its grainy structure It contains eighty per cent chalcedony and twenty percent opal, quartz, and foreign minerals. Uniform color jasper is very rare; most jasper is opaque and can show many different color patterns. The foreign minerals it contains form its colors, streaks, spots and appearance. There are more than fifty varieties of jasper but the most prized jasper gemstones have a combination of red and green patterns. Jasper colors include: red, brown, pink, yellow, green, gray/white and shades of blue and purple. It has a dull luster but when polished it develops a nice shine. Jasper sits at a 6.5 – 7 on the Mohs scale.
Jasper is typically found in veins and cracks in volcanic rocks, often together with chalcedony and agate. Veins of jasper occasionally occur in igneous rocks, for example, in granite. All jaspers are formed in a minimum of two steps. Tiny particles settle first in layers, then the layers are bonded together with a liquid silica solution. Jasper may go through many more steps in its formation. Many jaspers are named for the region where they are found or for their color patters. Some names include: Picture, Red, Kambaba, Landscape, Biggs, Frog Skin, Zebra, Mookite, Brecciated Mookiate, Brecciated, Picasso, Artistic, Exotica, Succor, Wilow Creek, Dalmation, Cobra, Ghost’s Eye, Dallasite, Dendritic, Stone Canyon, Plume, Bamboo, Lizard Skin, Polychrome, Desert, Ocean, Orbical, Poppy, Montana Bark, Snake Skin, Owyhee, Fancy, Spiderman, Starburst, Leopard Skin, Rainforest or Rhyolite, Morgan Hill Poppy, Burro Jasper.
Jasper is used in making all types of decorative objects as well as jewelry. It is a beautiful gemstone that many people like to collect. This is because of the different color patterns that it can posses.