What is Chrysoprase
Chrysoprase is also known as "Australia Jade" although it has nothing related to Jade, it is rather related to Agate. People usually define the Agate without color patterns as Chalcedony. Chalcedony, as well as Agate, has the Mohs hardness of 6-7, and the main chemical composition are both SiO2. SiO2 is colorless so the color of the gemstones depends on the amount and kinds of metal other than SiO2 in the composition. Chalcedony in blue color due to copper is given the name Blue Chalcedony while Chrysoprase looks green because of nickel. The hue of Chrysoprase can be from light apple green to dark green, and it is normally translucent or opaque. After being polished, the surface of Chrysoprase can be in glassy or waxy luster. Chrysoprase with high transparency and beautiful color is valuable, and ones with dark green are the most popular. However, once the color of Chrysoprase gets dark to a certain level, people defined it as Prase which is less valued than Chrysoprase.
Story and Legend of Chrysoprase
- Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, is fond of Chrysoprase. When building Sanssouci palace, King Frederick got lots of Chrysoprase from Silesia, the biggest Chrysoprase export country at that time, for making furnitures.
- It is said that Chrysoprase brings happiness and prosperity so kings and emperors from the past favored Chrysoprase.
- People in 18 century believed that they became invisible by putting a Chrysoprase in their mouth, therefore, criminals would bring a Chrysoprase with them to escape from death.
- During ancient Rome period, people thought Chrysoprase has an ability of healing.
- Rumor has it that Alexander the Great had a belt with Chrysoprase inlaid on it. The gemstone brought numerous victories for King Alexander until a snake stole the Chrysoprase and disappeared in the time he was taking a bath in a river. Since then, King Alexander never won another war and finally died at an early age.
- In Romania legend, Chrysoprase brought humans the capability of understanding language of lizard.
Distinguish Chrysoprase and Jadeite
Since the color and the nickname of Chrysoprase is similar to Jadeite, some people misunderstand them as the same thing yet they can be separated by their own characteristics. Chrysoprase is usually in one color, we can hardly see two different colors in a single Chrysoprase. Jadeite has its own cleavage surface while Chrysoprase has nearly no inclusion in the internal. Due to the density difference, we can feel that Jadeite is heavier than Chrysoprase by holding in hands, also, two stones sound different when colliding.
Origin of Chrysoprase
Chrysoprase can be found in several countries such as America, Brazil, Russia and Poland. Poland was the greatest Chrysoprase export country but it is now replaced by Australia, which produces about 87% of world total production. Many fine quality Chrysoprase come from Queensland, the clarity and color of a good quality Chrysoprase is able to compete with fine Jadeite.