Map stone jasper is a very unique species of jasper, with beautiful, swirling patterns across its surface.
It is mostly used for jewelry beading, tumbled stones, and decorative raw slabs.
Here are some tips to help you identify this uncommon stone. It is truly a hidden gem!
What Is Map Stone Jasper?
Jasper, including map stone jasper, is a stone that can be found all over the world.
To better understand map stone jasper, let’s take a look at jasper and its chemical makeup.
‘Jasper’ is an umbrella term used for a variety of different colored chalcedony stones, which are generally mainly composed of silica.
It is formed from a combination of different crystalline structures, which gives it its characteristic multi-coloring and unique patterns.
In fact, the word ‘jasper’ comes from the Greek word meaning “spotted stone”.
It is actually considered a type of opaque quartz, even though it looks nothing like how you’d typically imagine a quartz crystal to look.
No two jaspers look the same, which is what makes it such an interesting stone; all are completely unique.
Although jasper comes in a variety of colors, map stone jasper only comes in white with a mottled charcoal color that swirls over the surface.
It is a rare type of jasper because of the absence of the color red, which is the color that jasper is known for.
Of the many different species of jasper, map stone stands alone with its unique coloring.
How to Identify Map Stone Jasper
There are many different kinds of jasper that can be found.
However, map stone jasper is unlike any other species due to its singular appearance.
Here are some sure-fire ways to ensure that your map stone jasper is, indeed, genuine.
What color is it?
Map stone jasper has a very distinct color and pattern.
It has a white background and a dark, charcoal grey color that swirls in unique patterns across the stone.
It is especially noticeable in tumbled and polished stones.
If you find a jasper that has any colors other than those two, then you absolutely have the wrong stone.
Likewise, if you find a stone with only one of those colors, or if the charcoal color has a different pattern, such as banding, then you can be confident that it is not genuine.
Is it transparent or opaque?
One of the traits that distinguishes jasper from other crystalline stones is the fact that it is completely opaque.
This means that no light is able to pass through it, as it can with other crystals such as clear quartz.
This is one of the simplest methods to help identify your jasper.
What is the luster?
Luster refers to how much light reflects off the surface of a stone.
Jasper has what is known as a vitreous luster, which is a luster that is similar to that of glass.
It reflects light very easily, despite the fact that it does not have the classic geode structure.
If you find a piece of map stone jasper, try shining a light on it.
If the light is easily reflected and it has a shiny, glassy looking surface, that is a good indicator that you have a true map stone jasper.
What is the hardness?
A stone’s hardness is determined by the MOHS hardness scale, which is a simple test you can do at home.
It is a scale from one to ten, with one being the softest and ten being the hardest.
The easiest way to find a stone’s hardness is to administer the scratch test.
An item higher up on the MOHS scale will always scratch something that’s lower on the scale. Map stone jasper has an MOHS hardness of six and a half to seven.
Glass has an MOHS hardness of about five and a half to six, making it a softer stone than jasper.
Try scratching a piece of glass with your jasper; if it works, then you know that the stone is harder than glass.
If you want to be even more accurate, try scratching the jasper with something higher up on the MOHS scale, such as a drillbit.
If the stone scratches the glass and is scratched by the drillbit, then you know that it is of the right hardness to be jasper.
Is it magnetic?
Surprisingly, jasper is a stone that has magnetic properties due to the fact that it contains iron inclusions.
This is a simple test that you can administer at home.
Try holding your map stone jasper close to a magnet; if it shows magnetic attraction, even if it’s subtle, then you know that it has iron inclusions and may, in fact, be jasper.
Be careful – there are some map stone jasper imposters
Even though map stone jasper is a very rare type of jasper, there are other stones that may look similar.
White and grey howlite has colors almost indistinguishable from map stone jasper; however, howlite has a lighter grey in patterns that are much more subtle.
Magnesite is another that has grey patterns over a white background.
However, it can be distinguished from map stone jasper in that it has more of a veining pattern than swirls.
The grey veins are also of a lighter grey than the intense charcoal in map stone.
Pinolith is the closest to map stone jasper in color and pattern, but typically has a black pattern on top of the white background instead of charcoal.
Additionally, it has a completely different chemical composition of graphite, magnesite, and dolomite.
Map Stone Jasper in History
Jasper, including map stone jasper, can be traced back to most ancient civilizations and is even mentioned in the bible, thanks to its abundance all over the world.
It has been commonly used throughout history, first to create seals on the island of Crete on Greece in 1800 B.C.
It has also been discovered as a material used in the ancient world for the production of bow drills and carved into beetles by the ancient Egyptians to symbolize eternal life.
Native Americans used it for protection and to bring rain and fertility, while emperors in China created their own seals from the stone.
It was considered very valuable, and continues to be a widely-used stone to this day.
Caring for Map Stone Jasper
Since jasper is a relatively resilient stone, care shouldn’t be too difficult.
Make sure to keep it away from other stones that are harder and may damage it, like some quartz, topaz, and diamonds.
It can be cleaned with water and a soft washcloth.
Jasper is an ancient stone that has been revered throughout history.
Its usefulness, beauty, and uniqueness have kept it a beloved stone, and it will continue to be used for years to come.
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