Picture Jasper

Meaning and Properties


Picture this: As far as you can see, the landscape is filled with mountains that rise one beyond the other, like some John Ford western film. Picture jasper is most reminiscent of the dusty Old West's vast sandy expanse with golden brown and red stone "mountains" rising like ancient castles from it.

Jasper is an opaque chalcedony that comes in a wide variety of colors. The term "jasper" itself comes from the Greek work iaspi, meaning "spotted stone." Jasper is a gemstone that has been used all over the world. The ancient priests of Egypt carved jasper into beautiful jewelry while the Minoans used jasper for seals. While jasper is widely available today, the gemstone was once treasured as a valuable stone.

Like all jasper, the rich designs and colors of this opaque chalcedony first made it a highly popular ornamental material for vases, mantels, etc. Today it's an ideal gemstone for jewelry with a southwestern look.

Metaphysical Properties

Picture jasper is a landscape stone that's believed to help us find our place in the world. When we've stepped off the path or gone down a path we never intended, picture jasper is thought to give the time and space alone to sort through things. This stone is also thought to aid inner silence and strengthen the recall of early memories, so they can be understood and processed. Among practitioners of gemstone healing, picture jasper is a powerful grounding stone that promotes connection to the earth.

Some view this stone as a direct message from the Earth itself, instilling a sense of proportion, bringing comfort, alleviating fear and cultivating harmony. Although it is not an official birthstone, picture jasper is affiliated with the astrological sign Leo.

Geological Properties

Jasper gemstones are found all over the world, but picture jasper has large deposits in Africa and Brazil. Jasper in general is an impure silicon dioxide with unique patterns formed during mineral consolidation that creates the various types of this stone.

Four forms of picture jasper are found in Oregon: standard picture jasper, Biggs jasper (a stunning dark picture jasper), Deschutes jasper (similar to Biggs) and Owyhee jasper (a light "desertscape" picture jasper).

Mineral Information Silicate, chalcedony, quartz group
Chemical Composition SiO2
Color Cream, brown, grey, orange, other earthtones
Hardness 6-1/2 to 7 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 2.58 - 2.91
Refractive Index 1.54 (Approximately)

Proper Care of Picture Jasper

Jaspers are durable materials, yet the best method for cleaning picture jasper is to simply use warm soapy water with a soft cloth or brush. Be sure to dry the stone and all jewelry settings thoroughly before storing or wearing.

To learn more about jasper and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Picture Jasper

The earthy browns, charcoal greys and creamy oranges of picture jasper offer a range of choices to designers. Picture jasper pairs well with golds and coppers, while gunmetal and antiqued silver finishes can bring out the dark greys in particular stones. Combine with carnelian to highlight the creamy oranges, with blackstone to underscore the grey banding and with metallic bronze fire-polished glass beads to make the dark browns "pop." Picture jasper's patterns are often subtle, so be careful of overwhelming the stone with other patterned materials.

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