Despite being prized for millennia, and figuring prominently into most traditional ethnic jewelry, stones in the Chalcedony family are often overlooked as mundane. Little could be further from the truth.
Chalcedony shares the chemical formula SiO2 with glass, obsidian and quartz – its primary component is silicon dioxide. This “glassy” nature makes it an ideal stone for jewelry because it is hard, generally stable and takes a high polish. Chalcedony ranges from milky white to a deep dusky gray and hits almost every color in between. Jasper, Agate, Carnelian and Chrysoprase are all “forms” (to one degree or the other) of Chalcedony.
A Vintage Southwestern Chalcedony & sterling Silver Ring from our eBay store
Agate is usually characterized by angular bands that give it an especially naturalistic appeal. It comes in such a broad range of colors, and is so easily dyed, that the banding is usually the best way to identify it. Agate is often featured in traditional Scottish specimen brooches in which different colored agate cabochons are set in contrast to each other in either silver or gold. Agate is also a favorite gemstone of Southwestern Anglo and Native artisans.
Occasionally, the sediment inclusions in a piece of Agate align so perfectly that they trick the eye into thinking that it’s looking at a landscape painting. These so-called “Picture Agates” are prized when very detailed.
Picture Agate Brooch with a Desert Landscape – from our eBay store
Jasper lacks the translucency exhibited by some Agate. The best known variety of Jasper is a rich rusty red color. Other common varieties include yellow, mottled red and yellow, green, spherical included and spotted. Red Jasper has been favored by a number of cultures and was commonly carved into ornate sculptural art works. It is particularly favored by Mexican artists in Taxco and other Mexican “Silver Capitals”.
If you currently own and enjoy Jasper & Agate Jewelry, then you are a step ahead of the crowd. If not, now is the time to take advantage of the incredible value you can get for your money with these gorgeous earth-forged stones. Look out for our next installment in this series where we will cover Chalcedony’s other, more popular cousins – Chysoprase and Onyx.