Chrysoprase
 
Chrysoprase is a rare and beautiful gemstone.   A variety of chalcedony (a cryptocrystalline form of silica), a rare Quartz, that contains small quantities of nickel.   Its color is commonly apple-green, but varies to deep green.    The darker varieties of Chrysoprase are also referred to as 'prase' (not to be confused with chlorite-included Quartz).
 
Unlike most gemstones Chrysoprase is cryptocrystalline, which means it is composed of crystals so fine they cannot be seen as distinct particles under normal magnification.   This attribute makes it more rare, as well as more beautiful and sets it apart from rock crystal, Amethyst, Citrine, and the other varieties of crystalline Quartz which are formed from easily recognized six-sided crystals.   Other members of the cryptocrystalline silica family include Agate, Carnelian, and Onyx.   Unlike many non-transparent silica minerals, it is the color of Chrysoprase which makes it desirable.   The word Chrysoprase comes from the Greek 'Chrysos' meaning 'gold' and 'Prasinon', meaning 'green'.
 
Unlike Emerald which owes its green color to the presence of chromium, the coloring agent of Chrysoprase is nickel compounds which in form of very small inclusions.   The nickel reportedly occurs as different silicates, like kerolite or pimelite.   Chrysoprase results from the deep weathering or lateritization of nickeliferous serpentinites or other ultramafic ophiolite rocks.   In the Australian deposits, Chrysoprase occurs as veins and nodules with brown goethite and other iron oxides in the magnesite-rich saprolite below an iron and silica cap.
 
As with all forms of chalcedony, Chrysoprase has a hardness of 6 - 7 on the Mohs Scale and a conchoidal fracture similar to flint.
 
The best known sources of Chrysoprase are Queensland, Western Australia, Germany, Poland, Russia, the United States, and Brazil.   The Chrysoprase found in Poland, was possibly the largest in the world.   One of the most popular places to find Chrysoprase is in Australia, though it may be sold as Australian Jade, due to the close resemblance.
 
Chrysoprase can come in many sizes.   Since it is rare, it is usually hard to come by and is generally used for smaller pieces of ornamental jewelry.   During the Middle Ages, it was mined in the Northern Czech Republic and Southern Poland, the Chrysoprase was used as architectural decorations, mainly in major churches.   Chrysoprase is generally crafted as bead or spherical objects.   It is sometimes cut into cabochons or carved into fabulous shapes for use in jewelry.   It was used as ornamental jewelry by the Greeks and Romans in the forms of cameos, intaglios and for decoration and jewelry for the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.   During the Middle Ages, Europe valued Chrysoprase for its wonderful color, adorning churches and other architectural buildings with it.    Peter Carl Faberge created many works using this valuable gemstone.    GB Jewelers used it in a beautiful horse-head pendant which can be viewed in our Custom Jewelry.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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