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Jasper is truly the most diverse stone available in any color and any possible pattern, even with scenic picture-like formations. Jasper occurs in many varieties and can satisfy any mineral lover. However, please, beware of fakes. Fake jasper is not so common but still exists.
Real jasper is made of cryptocrystalline quartz. It possesses quartz’s physical properties, which makes jasper hardness 7 on the Mohs scale. That means real jasper cannot be scratched by a piece of glass or a knife. Real jasper is opaque, so transparent specimens can be considered fakes.
Jasper is so widespread that it can even be found in your backyard; however, does it mean that there are no fakes of it? No. People usually come across some other natural material under the name jasper. In rare cases, there is dyed jasper of extraterrestrial colors or even plastic occasionally.
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How to Tell if Jasper is Real
Real jasper is a highly desirable material. The same as quartz and fluorite, real jasper occurs in any color. However, in contrast to one of the most widespread minerals, real jasper is represented in numerous patterns. Real jasper structures can resemble even natural landscapes. These various patterns of jasper make the material truly exceptional and highly praised by mineral collectors.
Real jasper is a very hard gemstone (7 on the Mohs scale). It cannot be scratched by a piece of glass or a knife. All the fakes are mostly softer than real jasper. Another significant characteristic of real jasper is its opacity. Light can’t go through a compact structure of real jasper.
Jasper is a very common material for beads, cameos, vases, seals, and snuff boxes. Rough jasper is mostly cut or polished into cabochons. It is usually carved into cameos, which can be worn as pendants. Sometimes is enough to polish the jasper only to reveal its beauty. Impurities in jasper may create a variety of banding patterns in the stone.
Real jasper’s color abundance is explained by numerous mineral impurities, which trigger different colors of real jasper. Mineral phases other than quartz and chalcedony, causing different types of coloration in jaspers (after Yakovleva, Putolova, 1971) are next:
- Gray — albite, К-feldspar, sericite
- Black — magnetite, Mn-oxides
- Red, pink — hematite, garnet
- Brown — goethite, hematite
- Yellow — goethite
- Green — chlorite, pumpellyite, epidote, actinolite, clinozoisite, celadonite
- Blue, violet — magnetite, glaucophane-riebeckite, hematite.
How Does Real Jasper Look Like?
Real jasper will definitely capture you by its saturated color and intriguing pattern. Here is a checklist for natural jasper for you!
- Real jasper occurs in almost any possible color (mostly red hues), except unnatural bright ones (acid purple, bright yellow, and blue).
- Real jasper patterns are extremely different. They can be a series of overlapping oval shapes arranged in a circular format, brecciated, multi-coloured, banded, veined, orbicular (poppy or ocean jasper).
- Real jasper is hard enough. Being made of tiny quartz grains, jasper has the same hardness (7 on the Mohs scale).
TIP: Do you know how to determine the hardness of a rock? The easiest way to do so is using a Mohs scale test kit. These kits are great and helpful tools. Check out the best Mohs test kits in the article below:
How to Tell if Jasper is Fake
Fake jasper is not so extensive because of the real jasper prevalence. However, sometimes dyed natural material like chalcedony or agate can be sold as jasper.
Fake jasper occurs in unnatural colors like bright violet, blue, or orange. Fake jasper can be rarely represented by plastic; however, the hardness of plastic is far less than real jasper. Fake jasper can be represented by chalcedony or agate but they are semi-translucent, while real jasper is opaque.
Jasper has a lot of different varieties, and mineral sellers do usually misuse varietal names.
Let’s discuss fake jaspers made of other natural materials. Because chalcedony and agate look similar to jasper, they can be used as jasper stimulants. Agate, chalcedony, and jasper are composed of quartz grains of different sizes, so all of them have the same mineral composition and have very similar physical and chemical properties.
All three gemstones can display comparable patterns: layers, veins, bands. But there is only one feature that can help you to distinguish real japer from fake. It is opacity. Chalcedony and agate are semi-transparent, while jasper is opaque.
Another type of fake jasper is represented by dyed natural materials like low-quality jasper, or chalcedony, or agate again. Speaking about dyed jasper is offensive to all unbelievable natural jasper color and pattern varieties.
A human can barely enhance what nature created. However, some fake jaspers can be observed. Fake jasper occurs in sharp and glowing colors like acid purple, yellow, green, or blue colors.
The third fake jasper type is plastic. In the same way as other minerals substituted by plastic, fake jasper can be run into the form of already assembled beads.
Fake jasper made of plastic will fully correspond to natural opacity characteristics; however, the hardness will be much lower, so plastic fake jasper can be easily scratched by a knife or glass.
It’s noteworthy that there are a lot of different natural materials, which can be sold under the trade name jasper. For example, Dalmatian jasper is not a jasper at all but a form of peralkaline rock, which consists predominantly of feldspars (mesoperthite), quartz, alkali amphiboles, and lesser amounts of hematite and epidote.
Another similar example is Bumble Bee Jasper, which is actually Indonesian volcano lava and sediment-filled with Opticon.
TIP: Idaho is a great state for finding the real jaspers. Actually, Idaho is an amazing rockhounding place for much more beautiful rocks and minerals. Find out the best rockhounding places in Idaho and gemstones you can find in the article below:
What does Fake Jasper Look Like?
No need to be scared of fakes. In the case of jasper, they are quite rare and easily identifiable. Please, check the next steps to spot a fake.
- Fake jasper represented by other natural materials (chalcedony, agate) have a similar pattern and color palette as a real one.
- Fake jasper made of chalcedony or agate will be semi-transparent.
- Fake jasper represented by dyed natural material (low-quality jasper, chalcedony, or agate) occurs in bright acidic colors, for example, bright pink, vivid purple, intense green, or lemon yellow.
- Fake jasper made of plastic will be opaque.
- Fake jaspers made of plastic will have patterns and veins which are regularly ordered and repeated from time to time.
- Fake jasper made of plastic has considerably lower hardness and can be scratched by a knife and glass.
Real vs. Fake Jasper: The Main Differences
Here is a table with the most vital characteristics, which will help you to differentiate real jasper and fake.
|Characteristic feature||Real Jasper||Fake Jasper|
|Transparency||Absolutely opaque.||Fake jasper represented by chalcedony or agate can be transparent and semi-transparent. Fakes made of plastic are opaque.|
|Hardness test||Real jasper is a cryptocrystalline quartz variety, so it has the same hardness as quartz (7 on the Mohs scale). Real jasper cannot be scratched by a piece of glass and a knife.||Fakes made of chalcedony and agates have the same hardness as real jasper does because they are composed of quartz particles also. Fakes made of plastic are much softer and can be easily scratched by a knife or glass.|
|Color||Real jasper occurs in a variety of colors. The most common are red, brown, grey, yellow, orange, beige, rarely green, and white. However, these colors are natural and gentle.||Fake jasper colors are too bright and vivid. They are acid purple, bright green, vivid yellow, glowing blue.|
|Trade names||Real jasper has a lot of trade names, which are impossible to memorize. Here is a list of the most common ones. While buying a jasper, please, check this list attentively.||Fake jasper can hide under a fancy trade name. In case the suggested trade name is not on the list, most probably it’s a fake.|
TIP: Finding the real jasper is not that difficult. It can often be found in creeks. Creeks are great places for rockhounding. Find out what rocks and minerals you can find in creeks in the article below:
Where to Buy Real Jasper
Buying a real jasper is quite safe shopping. Jasper deposits are reported from all over the world. The biggest ones are known in the US, North Africa, Sicily, Germany, France, and Russia. For example, you can go for real red jasper hunting in Utah or Bruneau jasper (a red and green gem-quality stone) to Idaho.
In the case of real jasper, you are safe while buying jasper on a popular platform like Amazon or Etsy but, please, avoid the bright and vivid colors of material. Another piece of advice is to buy jasper in a rough state because already tumbled stones or beads can be fakes.
Real high-quality jasper can be quite expensive, as, for example, this sample of Madagascar Ocean jasper from Natural History Museum.
Jasper is a gemstone, which can satisfy any taste, as it occurs not only in a variety of colors but also in any possible pattern. Jasper is quite widespread from all over the world, so very few fakes are reported.
The most important thing to remember is:
- Real jasper is opaque.
- Real jasper is hard enough and cannot be scratched by a knife or glass.
- Real jasper doesn’t occur in bright unnatural colors like acid yellow, glowing blue, or vivid purple.
- Please, pay attention to trade names. If you are offered jasper with an unusual name, please, be careful and check the previous steps or consult with a specialist.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rocks and minerals identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- The Crystal Bible
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
TIP: Jasper is a fairly common rock around the world. Just come out to your backyard and you may find some jasper. Do you know what other rocks and minerals you can find in your backyard? Check out the common gemstones you can find in the article below: