Real jasper is a fine-grained mineral that is considered to be a gemstone.
Most jasper has a deep reddish color, but it also occurs in shades of yellow, green, blue, black and gray.
It shares many properties with quartz but jasper is a stone in its own right and has its own distinct characteristics.
Find out how to tell when jasper is really jasper and not just another lookalike.
How To Tell if Jasper Is Real (EXPLAINED)
What is Jasper?
Jasper is a variety of chert that is opaque and fine-grained.
It is a hard mineral with a natural waxy to dull luster but it polishes very well.
Jasper has a hardness rating of 7.
Jasper was used in jewelry in the ancient world.
The deep color and interesting patterns made jasper prized throughout the ancient world and into the modern one.
Since jasper can be found all over the world, it has been worn by generations of people all over the globe.
Mostly, jasper is prized for its natural beauty.
However, some believed in ancient times that the stone had specific medicinal powers.
Many attributed jasper to having healing properties.
It was believed that wearing jasper strengthened the stomach.
This mineral is found all over the world in both sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
Jasper is found in heavy quantities North Africa, Sicily, Germany, the Urals and other places around the globe, including several states in the U.S.
You can find jasper along riverbeds in Arizona and other western states.
Jasper has another historic use that was highly practical: it was used to test metals.
Black jasper was commonly used to test gold-silver alloys for their gold content.
By rubbing the gold on the jasper to create a streak, it was possible to see how much gold was present in the alloy.
This makes black jasper a practical stone for gemologists and metallurgists because it can be used to conduct quick tests in the field.
How to Identify Jasper
Jasper shares qualities and even its appearance with other types of similar stones.
So how can you tell if you’ve got the real thing?
There are certain qualities to look for that will help you identify real jasper no matter where you find it.
No light shines through jasper.
Unlike many other types of gems and rocks, jasper is completely opaque.
It blocks all light. Hold a piece of suspected jasper up to any light source and see if light passes through it.
If it does, it’s not jasper.
Jasper is a very hard mineral.
It cannot be scratched with a knife or a piece of glass.
Test jasper easily by attempting to scratch it.
Some stones are sold as jasper but they are actually a similar stone and not the real thing.
One way to know that you’re handling a fake is the color of the rock.
Real jasper is rich color but it is not bright.
The natural colors are more muted.
If you see so-called jasper in bright shades of pink, green and yellow, it is not real.
Jasper is deeply colored but it is not vibrant or bright.
Jasper has low toxicity, which means it’s not radioactive and therefore not dangerous to cut.
Jasper looks like other similar rocks, including chalcedony and agate.
In fact, sometimes all three of these gems are mislabeled as each other.
Agate and jasper are both varieties of chalcedony that are composed of microcrystalline quartz.
Some quartz stones can look like jasper as well.
Knowing how to identify real jasper from all the lookalikes is useful because there are plenty of lookalike and very similar stones out there.
Agate, unlike jasper, is translucent to semitransparent.
Light will pass through it.
This is one big difference in the two stones and a quick and easy way to tell them apart.
The colors and striations in both rocks are very similar, so it can be difficult to tell jasper and agate part on sight alone.
Many types of chalcedony look alike.
But quartz and chalcedony also share some of the same properties.
One of the easiest ways to tell a quartz rock from chalcedony is the luster of the stone.
Quartz has a shinier luster that is more like glass.
Chalcedony has a duller finish that reflects less light.
If you see a lot of shine, then it’s most likely you’re dealing with a piece of quartz.
That means it’s definitely not a jasper.
Why You Need to Know
What difference does it make if you can identify jasper from other rocks in the pile?
Some less-than-reputable sellers will market and sell stones as jasper even though they are not.
Stones that resemble jasper are typically much softer than jasper because this is a naturally very hard rock.
Other lookalikes are not as hard and therefore, not as durable.
You don’t want to pay for what you think is jasper and find out that you’ve got a lookalike instead.
Real jasper has been used for thousands of years as a decorative gemstone.
It was prized in jewelry among ancient civilizations, including Greeks and Romas.
Jasper is still used to make jewelry and pendants today.
It is seen in cameos.
Jasper’s hardness makes it a durable gem for all sorts of jewelry and decorative elements.
The name jasper comes from a Latin word that means “spotted stone.”
Jasper is also known as silex, hornstone and basanite.
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