Spotlight on: Chrysoprase
Chrysoprase is a green gemstone that is popular for use in jewelry. This fascinating green gem is form of rare quartz. It can be found in varying shades of green, from an apple green to a very dark almost emerald green. It contains traces of nickel, which is what creates its green hue. It has a hardness of 6-7 on the Mohs hardness scale, and can easily be formed into beads and other shapes.
This bright colored green gem has been used in ornamental jewelry for thousands of years and was named by the ancient Greeks. The gemstone has been associated with various myths and legends, The earliest mention of the stone was by Pliny the Roman scholar. He was fascinated by the stone and spent many hours studying it and writing about it. It is particularly prized among the Asian people of China where it is used to balance out the yin and yang of the chi.
Chrysoprase also has some mystical powers associated with it. For example, in the middle ages it was believed that it could reduce internal pain, and was said to strengthen the eyesight. Alexander the Great’s powers and strengths in battle have been attributed to the gemstone. There is a legend surrounding Alexander that says he had a belt with the gemstone on it that he always wore. According to the legend, a snake bit the stone off his belt, ending his eleven year winning streak.
For years, this brightly colored gem was mined out of Silesia, or what is know known as the Northern Czech Republic, and Southern Poland, but it was so popular that the supplies were exhausted. Today the best quality stones come from Australia, where it is often sold as Australian Jade, due to its resemblance of the stone.