There's green, and then there's chrysoprase green. When you compare this stone to say, a green onyx, it's easy to see why the color is so beloved and unmatched. Perfectly crisp and bright, it evokes the vernal excitement of spring, the bite of a freshly picked apple in autumn, or the lushness of a garden after a summer's rain. Read on to learn more about this wonderful stone.
Chrysoprase is a variety of chalcedony (itself a variety of quartz) with a distinct apple green hue. The name derives from the Greek word “chrysós”, meaning “gold”, and “práso”, meaning “leek”. This gem is generally translucent, but can range from nearly transparent to nearly opaque. The green of chrysoprase is caused by the presence of nickel in the chalcedony. The more nickel that is present, the richer the green hue. Chrysoprase is unique in this respect, as it is one of only two gems colored this way (the other being gaspeite). All other green gems derive their color from either chromium, iron, or vanadium.
Chrysoprase is 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. It is typically cut en cabochon, as this displays the color to its best advantage, but it also may be carved with a design or polished into beads.
Historically, it is believed that the Frankenstein deposit of Upper Silesia was the most important source of chalcedony until it was mined dry in the 14th Century. Other historians contend that the gem wasn’t discovered until the 18th Century in Szklary, Poland. In any case, this later era is the period when chrysoprase became popular in jewelry. Much of the chalcedony on the market today is sourced from Australia, but it is also found in Brazil, Myanmar, South Africa, India, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Russia, and the United States.
Chrysoprase is considered more valuable than other varieties of chalcedony because of its stunning color and its rarity. In fact, finer specimens of chrysoprase can sometimes be mistaken for imperial jade. Rulers and architects have appreciated its beauty across history. Frederick the Great of Prussia was a fan, and chrysoprase can be found in murals of the magnificent Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague.
An impressive carved chrysoprase snuffbox belonging to Frederick the Great of Prussia (V&A Museum).
Metaphysically, some believe that chrysoprase has strong powers to bring prosperity, happiness, and protection. It is also believed to help balance the conscious and unconscious mind. Chrysoprase is associated with the heart chakra, the zodiac sign Cancer, and the earth element.
Whether you enjoy chrysoprase for its beauty, history, or power, there is plenty to love about this apple green gemstone!