Gemstone Spotlight: Jasper

by: Ben Tseytlin - on Antiques & Jewelry

Jasper is a gemstone which has a distinct appearance. It is often multicolored, spotted, striped or flamed, and although it is frequently brown and red, it can appear in other colors as well. Below is an overview of this gem with tips on buying and wearing it.


This gem is notable for its high density, which is the result of other foreign materials. The presence of these materials means that it is rare for jasper to be uniform. In fact, it is often found with opal and agate. The beautiful patterns manifested by this gem will form during the mineral consolidation process, which are determined by the flow and presence of volcanic ash and sediments which are rich in silica.

Since silica deposits form naturally with cracks or fissures, they will be subsequently filled up by various materials from manganese to iron oxide and even organic matter. The manner in which all the materials settle will determine the gem’s final appearance. Typical jasper patterns which will appear include bands, flames, streaks, spots, orbital rings and veins.

How To Shop For Jasper

While Jasper comes in all sorts of color, reddish/brown is the most common. The rarest gems come in a single color, and are the most costly, as are specimens that have the right color saturation. This gem should always be opaque, even in the thinnest slices. Jasper responds well to polish and will display a luster which ranges from vitreous to fine. Most jewelers will cut it in a cabochon shape, typically with a dome that is very low. Jasper can be purchased in larger sizes and when so might appear as ovals, trillions, hearts or pears. This is one of the most popular gemstones for stone mosaics. However, jewelers must exercise care when cutting it since jasper that is banded tends to separate near the layers. Unlike other gems, jasper does not need to be enhanced and treated.

How To Wear And Care For Jasper

Jasper is sometimes overlooked for more famous gems such as diamonds, emeralds or rubies, but only by novices. Experienced jewelry hobbyists and experts recognize the importance of jasper; due to its many colors, shapes, abundance and patterns. When worn in the right way with the proper outfit, the results will be extraordinary.

Jasper goes well in necklaces, pendants and even rings. The gem is very hard and durable, and resists wear well. It is diverse, and can be used for any look you’re going for, whether it is urban, tribal or classy. Unlike other gems, it doesn’t require much maintenance and can be worn by males and females alike.

The best way to clean jasper is with water that is soapy and warm. You can also use a brush and cloth that is soft. However, be aware that there are some objects that can scratch jasper, like sapphires, diamonds and topaz, so these gems should not be mixed together. Avoid using household chemicals to clean it like bleach or sulfuric acid.