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  Chrysoprase or chrysophrase is a gemstone variety of chalcedony (fibrous form of quartz) that contains small quantities of nickel. Its color is normally apple-green, but varies to deep green. It is cryptocrystalline, which means that it is composed of crystals so fine that they cannot be seen as distinct particles under normal magnification. This sets it apart from rock crystal, amethyst, citrine, and the other varieties of crystalline quartz which are basically transparent and formed from easily recognized six-sided crystals. Other members of the cryptocrystalline quartz family include agate, carnelian, and onyx. Unlike many non-transparent members of the quartz family, it is the color of chrysoprase, rather than any pattern of markings, that makes it desirable. The word chrysoprase comes from the Greek chrysos meaning 'gold' and prason, meaning 'leek'.

Due to its comparative scarcity and pleasing green color, chrysoprase is one of the most prized varieties of quartz. Higher quality specimens often rival fine jade, for which it is sometimes mistaken. Cut into cabochons (smooth domed gems with flat backs for use in jewelry), it can be as sought after as fine amethyst.

Unlike emerald which owes its beautiful green color to the presence of chromium, the color of chrysoprase is due to trace amounts of nickel in the structure. The nickel reportedly occurs as platelets of the talc-like mineral willemseite. Chrysoprase results from the deep weathering or lateritization of nickeliferous serpentinites or other ultramafic ophiolite rocks. In the Australian deposits, chrysoprase occurs as veins and nodules with brown goethite and other iron oxides in the magnesite-rich saprolite below an iron and silica cap.

As with all forms of quartz, chrysoprase has a hardness of 6 - 7 on the Mohs hardness scale and a conchoidal fracture like flint.

The best known sources of chrysoprase are Queensland, Western Australia, Germany, Poland, Russia, Arizona, California, and Brazil.

Popular Culture

  • Chrysoprase is the tenth precious stone, among 12 precious stones mentioned to make up the foundation stones of the city wall of the "New Jerusalem" as described in Revelation 21:20 (NLT).

References and external links

  • Queensland government site
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chrysoprase". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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