Chalcedony Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Strictly speaking, most chalcedony (kal SED' uh nee) is a mixture of microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline quartz and moganite. (Some specimens of this material are free of moganite).  In common practice, only the translucent, single-color types of this material are sold under the name “chalcedony.” The rest of this group are sold under individual variety names or as agate or jasper. Although the definitions of these types overlap, agate is defined either by its translucency, color patterns, or inclusions. Jasper usually refers to an opaque, solid colored stone stained by oxides.

Chalcedony Value

General high value points for all chalcedonies would be strong color saturation and high translucence. The value of varieties such as agate and carnelian is more a function of the beauty of their cutting than the material itself.

The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.

Agate Value via Gem Price Guide
Cabochons All Sizes
Agate $.50 to /ct
Fire Agate to /ct
Blue Chalcedony to /ct

See the entire Gem Price Guide.

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Chrysoprase Value via Gem Price Guide
Cabochons All sizes
to /ct

See the entire Gem Price Guide.

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Chalcedony Information

DataValue
NameChalcedony
Is a Variety ofQuartz
VarietiesAgate, Fire Agate, Iris Agate, Binghamite, Bloodstone, Carnelian, Chrome-Chalcedony, Chrysocolla Chalcedony, Chrysoprase, Jasper, Dallasite, Orbicular Jasper, Plasma, Onyx, Sardonyx, Petrified Wood, Pietersite, Sard
Crystallography Hexagonal, microcrystalline.
Refractive Index 1.540 - 1.553
Colors All
Luster Waxy to dull
Polish Luster Greasy to vitreous
Fracture Luster Waxy to dull
Fracture Conchoidal, granular. Cryptocrystalline quartz: tough.
Hardness 7
Toughness Good
Specific Gravity 2.55 to 2.91
Birefringence 0.004
Cleavage None.
Dispersion None
Heat SensitivityNo
Luminescence Varies widely in cryptocrystalline quartz due to traces of impurities.
Wearability Excellent
Enhancements Dyeing: common, stable. Detected by appearance, spectrum, or Chelsea filter. Heating changes color, common, stable, undetectable.
Special Care InstructionsNone
Transparency Transparent to Opaque
UV LongUsually inert
UV ShortUsually inert
Absorption Spectrum Dyed green gems show weak lines at 6450 and 6700 nm. Dyed blue gems at 6270, 6660, and 6900. Others not diagnostic.
Phenomena Chatoyancy, iridescence
Identifying Characteristics Dyed blue and green gems show pink in Chelsea filter.
FormulaSiO2
Pleochroism None
Optics o = 1.540; e = 1.553. Uniaxial (+)
EtymologyMay refer to the ancient seaport of Chalcedon, now located in Istanbul, Turkey.
OccurrenceDeposits in a wide variety of environments. Nodules, veins, crusts.
“Order Up,” faceted chalcedony and brass plate, by bird&monster is licensed under CC By-ND 2.0
“Order Up,” faceted chalcedony and brass plate, by bird&monster. is licensed under CC By-ND 2.0

Comments

The colors of chalcedonies are a result of metallic impurities (such as iron, nickel, copper, and titanium) present during crystallization. Unstained material is often grayish blue. Chalcedony is a tough gemstone, good for all jewelry applications. Pieces are usually cabbed or carved, although an exceptional, near transparent piece may be faceted.

Varieties of Chalcedony

See the gem listings for agate and jasper for detailed information on those types of chalcedonies.

Blue Chalcedony

This material is the darling of some gem carvers and jewelry designers because of its varied and ethereal blue colors.

The color varieties are generally designated by place names. They vary in depth of blue color and the degree to which the blue is modified by gray or pink hues. As an overall group, blue chalcedony varies from pale to medium tones and in degree of translucency. Some pieces have a slight adularescence that enhances their value. This phenomenon is due to light interference from layers of microscopic inclusions. The effect is like a shimmering, floating, interior light.

“Pale blue ~ 30 Ellensburg Blue ring,” blue chalcedony, by Upupa4me is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0
“Pale blue ~ 30 Ellensburg Blue ring,” blue chalcedony, by Upupa4me is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0

“Mohave” and “Mt. Airy” blues originate in California and Nevada, respectively, and are slightly to moderately grayish blue with a light to medium color range.

Blue chalcedony from Namibia, often called “African Blue,” varies from grayish to nearly pure blue and from light to medium dark.

The most unusual type, and arguably the most valuable, is from Oregon. Its blues are modified by slight to moderate amounts of pink, making a noticeably lavender gem. Nonetheless, it’s called “Holly Blue.”

Carnelian

Translucent to semi-opaque, red, orange-red, or brownish chalcedony.

“Carnelian” by Jarno is licensed under CC By 2.0
“Carnelian” by Jarno is licensed under CC By 2.0

Sard

Similar to carnelian, but with a brownish tone. Its transparency ranges from slightly translucent to opaque.

Prase

Green, or yellowish green chalcedony.

Plasma

A dark green variety, frequently found with white or yellowish spots. Plasma is opaque due to densely packed actinolite crystals. Bloodstone, or heliotrope, is plasma with red and orange spots of iron oxide.

Onyx

A chalcedony with straight bands of colors. Black onyx has black and white layers. It occurs in nature in thin bands. What you find in the stores is almost always dyed. Sardonyx is onyx with white and red layers.

Flint and Chert

Opaque, dull gray or white chalcedony. They rarely make an appearance as gems, but have been used for arrowheads, driveways, and other utilitarian purposes. These materials are very compact and hard. Mozarkite is a colorful type of chert that has been fashioned into jewelry.

Dinosaur Bone

Silicified dinosaur bone is primarily chalcedony in composition. Gem cutters can cut and polish them like any other quartz family gem. This material can show interesting patterns and colors such as brown, red, pink, blue, purple, green, orange, and others.

Chrysoprase

Translucent green chalcedony colored by nickel. Chrysoprase material may resemble fine jade.

“Chrysoprase” by Jarno is licensed under CC By 2.0
“Chrysoprase” by Jarno is licensed under CC By 2.0

Chatoyant Chalcedonies

Chatoyancy is a type of sheen that creates an “eye-like” optical phenomenon. Chalcedonies that show this effect are called hawk’s eye if the stone is blue, tiger’s eye if the stone is brown or gold, and zebra tiger’s eye if the stone is blue and gold.

Damsonite

A purple-colored variety from Arizona has been marketed under this trade name. The material occurs in veins and blocks up to 1 m thick. Masses over 100 kg have been recovered. Its properties are normal for chalcedony (RI = 1.54, SG = 2.61), and its coloration appears to be the same as amethyst.

Chrysocolla in Quartz

A tough, siliceous material consisting of blue chrysocolla in fine particles disseminated in silica. This is a rich blue, hard material that takes an excellent polish.

Synthetics

For information on synthetic quartz in general, consult the quartz gem listing.

Enhancements

Dyeing is an ancient and common practice for enhancing chalcedonies. These stones are relatively porous. This is usually a stable process. Dyeing enhancements should be disclosed to consumers.

Almost any chalcedony can be turned red by heating in an oven since it contains finely disseminated iron compounds that are oxidized by heating.

Sources

More detailed source information is included in the individual gem listings for the chalcedony varieties.

  • Chalcedony: California; Iceland; India; Mexico; Namibia; Nevada; Oregon; Russia.
  • Carnelian: Brazil; Egypt; India; Uruguay.
  • Sard: Brazil; Uruguay.
  • Bloodstone: Australia; Brazil; India; United States.
  • Chrysoprase: Western Australia (Yandramindra, Wingelina, Kalgoorlie); Brazil; California; Russia.
  • Chrysocolla in Quartz: Arizona; New Mexico; Mexico.
  • Dinosaur Bone: Colorado; Utah; Wyoming.
“Chalcedony in Situ” by Hadley Paul Garland is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0
“Chalcedony in Situ” by Hadley Paul Garland is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0

Stones Sizes

Chalcedony is usually nodular, but masses can be several pounds and many inches in diameter.

Care

Chalcedony requires no special care. Mild detergent, warm water, and a soft brush are a good choice for cleaning.

“Green chalcedony portrait bust of Julia Drusilla or Livia Livilla (sisters of Caligula), made about AD 37-39, British Museum” by Carole Raddato is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0
“Green chalcedony portrait bust of Julia Drusilla or Livia Livilla (sisters of Caligula), made about AD 37-39, British Museum” by Carole Raddato is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0