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Chrysoprase is a variant of Chalcedony, or cryptocrystalline quartz, which means it is made up of microscopically fine crystals. Trace amounts of nickel cause its signature green color, and in the rough it typically appears in colorful veins sandwiched by iron and magnesite-rich host rock.

Rough chrysoprase seen at the Tucson Gem Show

Rough Tanzanian Chrysoprase from the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

Chrysoprase has been used for adornment as far back as 400 BC, and is currently found in deposits all over the world. The most famous material is from the Marlborough mine in Australia, but I’m partial to the bluer, creamier variants found in Brazil, as well as the deep gemmy blue-green material found in Tanzania.

In Christian lapidaries of the Medieval era, chrysoprasus symbolized those who endured hardship but remained generous and open-hearted. Lapidaries often prescribed stones for medical and metaphysical ailments, and Chrysoprase was said to brighten the eyes and heal sprains. Beyond the physical benefits, Chrysoprase symbolized personal triumphs of all kinds: its wearer would overcome enemies, attract wealth, and be protected from myriad “misdeeds of the devil”.

German 18th-century smallsword with inlaid chrysoprase hilt. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
18th Century smallsword with Chrysoprase-inlaid hilt (possibly German) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art permanent collection.

Later traditions described Chrysoprase as conferring grace upon its wearer. And true to legend, this stunning blue-green stone is captivating on almost anybody. The color brings to mind tropical waters, fresh spring leaves, and crisp, tart apples. It’s the perfect antidote for the undifferentiated slog of midwinter, offering optimism and hope during cold, dark days.

Custom sterling silver bracelet with hand cut chrysoprase cabochon
Octave custom sterling silver bracelet featuring a hand-cut Australian chrysoprase cabochon
Contemporary "lapidaries" continue the Medieval tradition of symbolic awareness, and this stone is still ripe with meaning. Chrysoprase is said to help align your ideas with your behavior. Wearing the stone encourages self-respect and integrity, offering a clearer view of how current desires and higher ideals might converge.

In the early days of a new job, Chrysoprase could remind you to stay curious and confident in your proven skills. On a first date, it could symbolize an open heart and mind. Perhaps it could even help you stay optimistic and steadfast during challenging circumstances.

Shop Octave's Chrysoprase edit HERE.

close-up image of rough chrysoprase gems
The Book of Stones: Who They Are and What They Teach by Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian
A Lapidary of Sacred Stones by Claude Lecouteux
Encyclopedia of Crystals by Judy Hall

Banner image by Pippa Drummond

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