Guide to Agates and Jaspers
Chalcedony (kal SED' nee) is any form of microcrystalline quartz, where the crystals are too small to be seen without high magnification. However, in the rock world, only the translucent or transparent, single color types are sold as "chalcedony". (The exception would be Carnelian, a blood red variety.) Other colors are white, blue, purple, pink, yellow, orange or red. The various types differ in color due to metallic impurities, such as iron, nickel, copper, and titanium present during crystallization.
Chalcedony forms in rounded crusts, rinds or stalactites in volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The name chalcedony probably comes from Chalcedon or Calchedon, an ancient port city on the Sea of Marmara in modern-day Turkey. They usually have a waxy luster and a hardness of 7. Chalcedonies are tough gems, good for all jewelry applications and require no special care in wearing or cleaning.
Some varieties of Chalcedony and their localities are:
Chrysoprase – gets its green color from nickel. Most chrysoprase sold today comes from Australia.
Chrysocolla - Marketed as "Gem Silica" this rare, blue to blue-green, opaque to near transparent material is the most expensive type of chalcedony. Found almost exclusively in Arizona its color is due to copper.
Blue Chalcedony -The various blues are generally named by their localities. The colors vary greatly from gray to lavender. They also vary in the amount of translucency.
Bustamite - An extremely rare pink variety from South Africa. It is found in the manganese mines and the color can vary from pale pink, to dusty rose, to a raspberry red.
Carnelian - reddish blood-brown or orange-brown.
JASPERS AND AGATES
The rest of the stones in the chalcedony family are sold under individual variety names, or as jasper or agate. While the definitions overlap, Jasper usually refers to an opaque stone, with a solid color or an irregular display of colors caused by various mineral impurities. The named jasperis derived from the Greek word that means “spotted stone”. Agate is defined by its translucency (ability to see light through it), and by its clearly defined pattern or banding of multiple colors. The name agate is derived from the Sicilian river Achates. Sometimes stones do not fit these definitions, for example Fire Agates, and sometimes stones will be referred to as a "jasp-agate"!
Jaspers and Agates are found all over the world, with certain colors or patterns unique to particular localities. All types take an excellent polish, are trouble free to care for, and hardy enough for all jewelry uses. Most jaspers and agates are named after their colors or their appearance, or from where they are found.
Some Jaspers named after their localities:
And some Agates named after their locality:
Botswana (Africa), Coyamito (Mexico), Luna (Mexico), Laguna (Mexico), Graveyard Plume (Idaho), and Brazilian Agate (Brazil has the most massive deposits of agate in the world and they are mostly found in southern Brazil.)
Some Jaspers and Agates named after their color or appearance: Bloodstone is a dark green with red spots, Orbicular Jasper has circle patterns or “eyes”, Poppy Jasper is red with yellow or white spots, Leopardskin Jasper is yellow and black, Zebra Jasper is black and white, Dalmation Jasper looks like a dalmation dog! White Plume Agate is named for the plume like inclusions, Turritella Agate is composed mostly of turritella shells, Blue Lace Agate is lavender blue with lacey white pattern, Spiderman Jasper is black with red webbing, Confetti Agate looks like confetti, Moss Agate is named for its mossy inclusions, Dendritic Agate has tree or fern like inclusions, Crazy Lace Agate is named for its wild lacey pattern, and Ocean Jasper is named not only because it is found in the ocean and can only be reached at certain times of the year by boat, but also for its sprays and swirls resembling the ocean!
If you are looking for a secific variety of jasper or agate just enter its name in the search box!
Other Members of the Chalcedony Family:
Flint is opaque, dull gray or white. It rarely makes an appearance as gem, but is useful material for arrowheads, other utilitarian purposes. A recent find in Poland has great pattern and gray to brown color that makes nice cabs and decorative objects, such as spheres.
Petrified Wood and Dinosaur Bone are chalcedony pseudomorphs, the atom-by-atom replacement of one mineral (wood) for another (chalcedony) without changing the original mineral's external appearance. In the Petrified Forest National Monument of Arizona, there are remains of an entire ancient forest that was transformed into chalcedony.