​​​​​​​​​​                                                     JASPER
                                                       by Wayne G Farley - January, 2018

DESCRIPTION: (GemRocks, Ref-1) Dense microcrystalline quartz -- some people describe jasper as similar to chert whereas others compare it to chalcedony; my observations favor the correlation with chert because virtually all of the rock I have seen that has been called or labeled jasper is opaque or sub-translucent in thin splinters and has a dull to pearly luster like chert, which is quite different from the typical translucency and sub-vitreous luster of most chalcedony. Nonetheless distinguishing certain specimens as one versus the others of these rocks is subjective and based on the experiences of the person naming them. Colors - typically red of diverse hues or brown; less commonly green or just about any color, white, gray or black; even less commonly zoned -- e.g., ill-defined stripes that are yellow, bluish, purplish, gray or nearly black -- with some specimens cloudy, variegated, roughly banded and/or spotted. In practice, color leads to some of the problems that arise when one is naming some materials jasper rather than chert: a "rule of thumb" (albeit based on one's subjective sense of and feelings about color) to which I subscribe, is "if the given rock exhibits attractive colors call it jasper, otherwise call it chert."

Band (or banded) jasper:
an alternative name for ribbon jasper.

Banded Jasper

​​Bayate: local name for brown jasper from Cuba.

Biggs jasper: one of the more recently discovered picture rock materials. The first piece was found about 1960 in a creek bottom south of Biggs Junction, Oregon. It is one of the more distinctive jaspers even though it lacks brilliant colors; its design is unique among siliceous rocks. It takes an excellent polish.

Biggs Jasper Cabochons

Blood jasper: misnomer for bloodstone.

Bruneau jasper: beautifully patterned brown or reddish brown and cream colored jasper from Bruneau River Canyon, Owyhee County, Idaho.

Bruneau Jasper Slab

Bumble-Bee jasper (Eclipse “jasper): The term jasper is a misnomer, as this vibrantly colored orange, yellow, and black material actually formed from a mixture of Indonesian volcano lava and sediment. A carbonate-rich rock first discovered on the island of Java during the 1990s, the material is soft, with Mohs hardness of 5 or below. The porous rock is easily cut and polished, and most specimens are filled with Opticon.

Bumble-Bee Jasper Cabochon

Candy rock: see statements under REMARKS subheading in RHYOLITE entry.

Catalinaite (also spelled Catalinite): Jasper/sardonix pebbles found on shores of Santa Catalina Island in the Gulf of California, Mexico.

Cave Creek jasper: rather bright red jasper from Maricopa County, Arizona.

Arizona Cave Creek Jasper Slab

Chrysojasper: jasper colored with chrysocolla.

Chrysojasper Sphere

Cinnabar matrix: "term applicable to various varieties of minerals containing numerous inclusions of cinnabar but especially to a Mexican variety of jasper." (Shipley, 1951)

Creolite: red and white banded jasper from San Bernardino and Shasta counties, California.

Crocodile Jasper (aka Kambamba Jasper): Kambamba is one of the more exotic Jaspers, a rare orbicular variety from Madagascar and South Africa. In its depths one can literally glimpse the origins of life on our planet and touch a tangible form of the primordial ooze that nurtured our atmosphere and advanced the creation of all living things. A sedimentary stone, Kambaba Jasper is comprised ofmicrocrystalline Quartz interlaced with Stromatolites, ancient fossilized colonies created by cyanobacteria and other primeval microorganisms. These Stromatolites date back more than three billion years and are the oldest known fossils, containing the earliest records of life on Earth. Kambamba is often called Green Stromatolite Jasper, and is sometimes referred to as Crocodile Rock or Crocodile Jasper. There are several spelling variations of the name, including Kambamba, Kabamba, Kabamby, Bambamba, and Cumbamba. Because of color similarities, it is sometimes confused with Nebula Stone; though they are very different in composition and places of origin.

Crocodile Jasper Slab

Dallasite: a variety of Jasper composed of a breccia of colourless Quartzite, green Epidote, Pumpellyite and altered basalt minerals from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

Dallasite Jasper Cabochon

Dalmatian jasper: also known as “dalmatian stone,” is a popular decorative gemstone with a unique appearance resembling the spotted coloration of the Dalmatian dog breed. Our research revealed that this gemstone is a peralkaline rock of uncertain provenance. It consists predominantly of feldspars (mesoperthite), quartz, alkali amphiboles, and lesser amounts of hematite and epidote. Black spots found in the examined rock’s mass were recognized as arfvedsonite. The authors recommend the use of the term “dalmatian stone” rather than “dalmatian jasper,” since the material does not meet the gemological definition of jasper. (GIA Vol. 53, No. 3)

Dalmatian Jasper Slab and Jewelry

Dendritic Jasper: In 2009, a man was chasing one of his goats up a mountain slope a few kilometers from the pueblo where he lived. He stumbled over some rock that he thought looked unusually pretty and picked some up. In 2011 some of this rock was offered for sale at the Tucson and Quartzsite Show in Arizona. It was well received with beautiful, feather-like dendritic patterns on different colored backgrounds. The rock is simply called Sonora Dendritic because of the strong dendritic patterns and is found in the state of Sonora, Mexico. The state of Sonora is directly south of Arizona and California. (Gem Shop, Rev-13)

Sonora Dendritic Jasper

Egyptian jasper: brown and banded jasper that occurs as sporadic pebbles, cobbles and small boulders on the desert between the Red Sea and Cairo, Egypt.

Elephant jasper: brown jasper containing small black dendrites or exhibiting a spider-web-like pattern.

Frogskin jasper: grayish tan jasper with sporadic irregular green patterns from Chihuahua, Mexico.

Heliotrope (Bloodstone): As the name bloodstone describes, there are spots on this green colored stone that makes it look like it has blood droplets spattered over its surface. These “blood” spots are formed by iron oxide impurities while the main color of this gem is solid green. Some stones may look like they are darker green in places and this is caused by the density of the Chlorite inclusions.

Heliotrope Jasper Gemstone

Imperial jasper: name given to Mexican jasper that is variegated in green and yellow hues and is in part translucent so it exhibits diverse interesting patterns in transmitted as well as reflected light.

Mexican Imperial Jasper Cabochon

Iolanthite: local trade name for banded reddish jasper found as pebbles in Crooked River, central Oregon.

Jasp agate (agate jasper, jasp fleuri, and jasponyx): names sometimes given material that 1.consists of bands of transparent chalcedony and sub-translucent jasper, or 2.is deemed intermediate between jasper and agate.

Jasper breccia: A term applied to two different materials: 1. breccias the larger fragments of which are jasper and 2. breccias that have been jasperized.

Jasperine: name sometimes applied to color banded jasper

Kaleidoscope Jasper: (MinDat, Ref-9) Kaleidoscope is identified by various sub names as so many of this Oregon deposits in this small parcel are unique, like: BlazingFlame, Floating Orb, The Purple Picture Jasper Kaleidoscope, Rhodestone Kaleidoscope Jasper, Candy Stripe, Mexican Cherry, Endeavor(C), Red flame, Christmas Tree, Gypsy Jasper Kaleidoscope(C), Angelic Picture Wood Jasper Kaleidoscope, and Red Velvet.

Kaleidoscope Jasper Slab

Kinradite: trade name for orbicular jasper that contains white or nearly colorless spherulites of quartz, from Point Bonita near the Golden Gate Bridge, California. See also Oregonite.

Leopardskin jasper (also leopard jasper): buff to orangish tan jasper with sporadic dark brown to nearly black spots or rings (typically about 1/4 inch in diameter), the overall pattern of which resembles that of leopards' coats.

Moss jasper: jasper with features similar to those of moss agate from the Mojave Desert of California.

Morrisonite: marketplace name for a varicolored jasper, which apparently had a volcanic ash precursor, from near the southern end of Lake Owyhee, Malheur County, Oregon (see Fig. D).

Morrisonite Jasper Slab

Mookaite (Mookerite, Mook or Mook Jasper): an Australian Jasper of bold, earthy beauty with a fiery fusion of red and yellow. It is found only in the Kennedy Ranges of Western Australia in outcroppings near Mooka Creek, the area for which it is named. It is described as chert, opalite or chalcedony, or a combination of the three, varying only with the degree of silica, and occurs as nodules in the softer clay beneath the creek bed or as multicolored sheets of chalcedony. Although most Mookaite contains only the chemical remains of the radiolaria, occasionally impressions of Ammonites and other organisms have been preserved. There are also rare occurrences of black dendrite inclusions in Mookaite that, when cut en cabochon, produces a dendrite “tree” formation and greatly increases the value.

Mookaite Jasper Slab

Morlop: name sometimes applied to mottled jasper.

Mtorolite: "uniform dark green jasper sent to me by someone from Africa, calling it that ...  it may be a locality designation, perhaps associated with a settlement in the Mtwara administrative district of southeastern Tanzania." (Frederick Pough, personal communication, 1998); see also chrome chalcedony and mtorolite in the CHALCEDONY entry.

Nunkirchner jasper: rather dull grayish brown jasper from the vicinity of Idar-Oberstein, Germany.

Ocean jasper: Ocean Jasper is a trade name for a multicolored stone from Madagascar, typically with spherical patterning. Although commonly described as orbicular jasper, the most recent research suggests it is the mineral chalcedony instead. Some pieces have agate banding or druses of clear quartz, a coating of tiny crystals, known more commonly as "druzy" Ocean Jasper only comes from one place in the world, northwestern Madagascar. It is found in the Analalava district of the Sofia region in the former province of Mahajanga. There are actually two different deposits, about ten miles apart:

1: Near the village of Marovato, directly on the shoreline, known for its multicolored orbs, translucency, and druzy. (The name Marovato means "many stones" in Malagasy.) 

2: Near the village of Kabamby, about a mile and a half inland, known for its consistent green and yellow colors, opaqueness, and geometric patterning created by contact between orbs. (The name "Kabamby" does not translate into anything else in Malagasy.) https://www.entertheearth.com/the-geology-varieties-and-history-of-ocean-jasper-part-one/

Ocean jasper Cabochons

Oolitic red jasper: - this hematite-pigmented jasper, which I have found constituting beach pebbles along the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior could be fashioned into striking beads, earrings, small pendants, etc.  This rock certainly has a good potential so far as use as a gem-rock IF the source rock is found to be available in quantities sufficient for economical recovery.

​Orbicular jasper: jasper with sporadic orbicules -- i.e., roughly spherical zones -- with one or more colors different from the color of the main mass. One noteworthy source is Morgan Hill, Santa Clara County, California. See also kinradite, oregonite, Owyhee jasper, ocean jasper and poppy-patterned jasper (etc.).

Oregonite: trade name sometimes given to kinradite (q.v.) from the area near Grants Pass, Oregon.

Owyhee jasper: (pronounced Oh-WAH-hee), comes from the rugged Owyhee mountain area situated on the Idaho-Oregon border, just south of Homedale, Idaho. Owyhee Jasper is another one of the very popular picture jaspers, known for their depictions of mountain or desert scenery, with or without the "blue sky"! There are now about 6 different varieties that fall under the Owyhee Jasper name.

Owyhee Jasper Slab

Paradise jasper: local trade name for variegated red jasper from Morgan Hill, California.

Pastelite jasper: characterized by pastel colors --e.g., pinks, light greens and tans -- that appear as wavy lines in articles fashioned from it. This jasper is rather widespread in western United States.

Petrified wood: much petrified wood is largely, if not wholly, jasper; see Xyloid jasper and FOSSILIFEROUS ROCKS entry.

Picture jasper: name applied to scenic jasper (q.v.) included in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals of the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institute), Washington, D.C. The picture jasper following was cut and polished by BGMS member Wayne Farley, and is in his collection.

Biggs Picture Jasper Cab (Water Falls)

Poppy-patterned jasper (poppy jasper and poppy stone): trade name(s) for orbicular jasper that contains sporadic relatively bright red, orange or yellow orbicules, typically within a yellowish green background, from the Paradise Valley and Llagas Creek, California.

Poppy Jasper Cabochon

Riband jasper (also ribbon jasper): jasper type with bands of different colors.

Ribbon Jasper Cabochon

Rogueite: greenish jasper found in gravels of Rogue River, Oregon.

Russian jasper:
name sometimes given red-flecked jasper.

Scenic jasper (picture jasper): typically light tan jasper with dark brown lines that, when cut in certain directions, exhibit patterns that resemble natural panoramas of, for example, rolling topography and/or shorelines. A particularly noteworthy example is the jasperized volcanic ash, sometimes referred to as Biggs jasper, from Biggs Junction, Sherman County, Oregon.

Sioux Falls jasper: multicolored jasper from Sioux Falls, South Dakota that has been used for such things as tabletops and interior architectural trim.

Swiss lapis: blue (apparently dyed) jasper, sometimes marketed as a lapis lazuli substitute.

Vabanite: reddish brown jasper with yellow flecks and/or streaks from California

Variegated jasper: name sometimes given rather high-quality jasper from the San Francisco region, California.

Wilkite (Willow Creek jasper): Willow Creek Jasper is known for its subtle pastel colors of yellow, purple, pink, and green; and it’s streamer patterns, and egg or orb patterns. Premium quality Willow Creek is unmatched.   It takes an extreme high gloss… like liquid glass. People who have worked Willow Creek say it has pastel colors and is somewhat soft and delicate in nature…perhaps, but top premium quality Willow has dramatic coloring, and incredible patterning.  Along with Bruneau Jasper, I consider it the purest porcelain of the porcelain jaspers. http://www.rarerocksandgems.com/webfolders/RocksFossilsMeteo/Willowcreek/article/willowcreekarticle.htm

Willow Creek Jasper Slab

Wonderstone: a silicified rhyolite rock that is also called rhyolite jasper. The Montana Rhyolite Jasper material below is from a quarry just south of the Sweetwater Road between the abandoned Anderson Ranch and the Ruby Reservoir, SW of Alder. (Hodges, Ref-11)

Montana Wonderstone Rhyolite Jasper

 Xyloid jasper: petrified wood that consists largely of jasper - i.e., jasperized wood.

Xyloid Jasper Cabochons

Zebra jasper: dark brown jasper with lighter brown to nearly off-white steaks from India and South Africa.

Zonite: term applied to various colored jasper and chert in Arizona.

USES: (GemRocks, Ref-1) Jasper has found widespread use in jewelry and for fashioning ornaments since its early use as beads and for seals.  Black jasper was used for intagli in Roman times (King, 1965, p.123); most "Indian beggar beads" consist at least in part of diversely colored jasper; many carvings are made of jasper. OCCURRENCES:  Much jasper appears to represent replaced limestone or dolostone -- in some places, extensive beds of those rocks. It also occurs as a veins and nodules and otherwise configured components, commonly as part of the gangue of mineral deposits that appear to have formed as the result of hydrothermal or metasomatic processes.

NOTEWORTHY LOCALITIES: See the localities noted with the terms listed under the OTHER NAMES subheading. As might be suspected from going through that list, jasper is relatively common -- Merrill's catalog entries (1922, p.25-26) for nine specimens in the U.S. National Museum collections include the following localities: Egypt (Nile River), England (Hertfordshire), India, Saxony, Siberia, and "Locality not recorded." And, that list is fairly exemplary of the rather non-definitive locality labels I have seen on numerous specimens of jasper in several museums and private collections. In addition, it is common to see one locality listed for several diverse samples -- e.g., I suspect that labels reading simply San Bernardino California, indicate only that the specimens came from somewhere within the general area along Route 40 between Ladle and Newberry Springs, California.

Special attention is directed to Frondel's (1962) treatment of jasper -- in the Silica Minerals volume of the seventh edition of Dana's "System ..." -- where several localities for diversely colored jasper are recorded. Also, Evseev (1994, p.48) gives the following entry -- repeated here because of the relative difficulty in obtaining a copy of the publication in which it occurs:

"Jasper -- Since the 18th century, the Altai has been famous for decorative jasper varieties, which are used in large items --Revnevskoye deposit (near the town of Zmeinogorsk) -- grey-green banded jasper (a large chunk of the Revnev jasper was used to manufacture a unique 3 x 5 m vase and columns in the Hermatage ... headwater of the Charysh River -- white jasper with black dendrites; Korgon River (confluent of the Charysh River) -- beautiful grey-violet porphyry; Transbaikalia -- 'Egyptian jasper' Ir-Nimi deposit (Far East) -- 'watercolor' jasper whose peculiar coloring is formed by bright blue patches on the red, dark grey, and brown background; specimens from this deposit came to be known quite recently in the 1970-1980s."

REMARKS: Jasper is recorded in ancient manuscripts (e.g., Exodus  XXVII: 20).  Its etymology, as given in several references, is approximately the following: Middle English (jaspre); from Latin (iaspis); Greek (ιασπι ϛ - iaspis); Persian  (yašhm);  Arabic (yašb);  Hebrew (yāšhpêh);  Assyrian/Akkadian (ašhpū).

The color and opacity of jasper is dependent upon its being so-to-speak "chuck full" of microscopic and submicroscopic inclusions, commonly of hematite and other iron-bearing minerals.

A velvety black variety of jasper, called Lydian stone or basanite, was formerly used as a touchstone -- i.e., a stone whose smooth surface when scratched with, for example, gold or silver or certain alloys, exhibits streaks that can be compared to streaks of known metals or alloys, and thus provide a means of identification, including even measurements of such things as the material's gold content.

Red jasper and yellow jasper are thought by some scholars to have occupied positions one and ten, respectively, in Aaron's breastplate (see GLOSSARY); other scholars have suggested that jasper occupied either the fifth or sixth position.  In addition, the term given the twelfth stone of the Breast plate of the High Priest, Yashpheh, has sometimes been translated as green jasper. Jasper is indicated to constitute the first foundation of walls of the Heavenly City (Revelation, XXI: 19).

SIMULANTS: (GemRocks, Ref-1) Bloodstone - this chalcedony gem-rock [see CHALCEDONY entry] is sometimes called blood jasper.  In my opinion, this reported nomenclature seems outlandish -- considering their market values, it seems much more likely that jasper resembling bloodstone would be marketed as a bloodstone simulant. However, I must admit that some bloodstone looks more like jasper than like chalcedony. -  [In any case, fracture surfaces of chalcedony tend to be shinier than fracture surfaces of jasper.].

***Glass - Marilyn Jobe of Ellenton, Florida has fashioned beads from glass that closely resembles brecciated jasper - [inferior hardness].

***Iris jasper - an Iimori glass - [vitreous luster; inferior hardness].

***Jasperware (jasper ware) - Wedgwood china that resembles jasper, which has been molded into, for example, cameo-appearing pieces used in pendants, brooches, and earrings. - [Appearance suffices.].

***Porcelain jasper: "Hard, naturally baked, impure clay or porcellanite, which, because of its red color, resembles jasper" (Mitchell, 1985) - [Although appearance may suffice, non-macroscopic means are often required.].

Sioux Falls jasper: brown quartzite used as a gem-rock; from vicinity of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. - [vitreous luster].

In an opposite sense, the name Oriental jasper has been applied to bloodstone. - [As noted under the DESCRIPTION subheading, distinguishing some chalcedony from jasper, and even from some chert, is commonly subjective.]. REFERENCES: Blair, 1982; Dake, Fleener and Wilson, 1938; Frondel, 1962; Lovering, 1972


Jasper by Hans Gamma, with pictures that are out-of- this- world. It covers all of the Jasper's west of the Rockies. Hans states the following: "For many years, I've been pursuing with passion the exquisite colors and designs in Jasper's and to document each precise locality. Originally from Switzerland, I retired in the beautiful Arizona Desert, where I continue with enthusiasm the collecting, cutting and polishing to unveil the secrets of the World of Jasper's." 

His site is http://worldofjaspers.com/index.html

Jasper in Montana:
1. Montana City, r miles S. of Helena: (Hodges, Ref-11)
2. Blackfoot River: (Ream, Ref-10 and Hodges, Ref-11)
3. Henderson Gulch,: Dendritic Jasper (BGMS Files)
4. Pryor Mountains: (Hodges, Ref-11)
5. Spire Rock Travertine: (Hodges, Ref-11)
6. Montana Agate Areas: (Hodges, Ref-11)
7. Tree-Bark Rhyolite Jasper, eBay, exact location unknown (Ref-12)

References & Resources:

1.   GemRocks, http://stoneplus.cst.cmich.edu/Default.htm
2.   GIA, Jasper, https://www.gia.edu/
3.   Google; Pinterest, Jasper rock
4.   Marco Campos-Venuti , “Genesis and Classification of Agates and Jaspers: a New Theory, 2015
5.   Polk, Patti; “Collecting Agates and Jaspers of North America”, 2013
6.   Gibbs, Ron; “Agates and Jaspers”, 2009
7.   Zeitner, June Culp; “Gem and Lapidary Materials”, 1996
8.   Rock & Gem Magazine, Dec. 2013 and Mar. 2015.
9.   MinDat; Kaleidoscope Jasper https://www.mindat.org/forum.php?read,62,396002,396223,quote=1
10. Ream, Lanny; “Gem Trails of Idaho & Western Montana”, 2012
11. Hodges, Montana; “Rockhounding Montana”, 2016
12. eBay, “Jasper”
13. Gem Shop, https://thegemshop.com/pages/sonora-dendritic-location

    Bitterroot Gem & Mineral Society