Chrysoprase Buying Guide


Summary
With bright, apple-green hues, chrysoprase makes an attractive, eye-catching jewelry stone. Though a relatively inexpensive gem, this variety of chalcedony has grown popular. Accordingly, its price has increased. While pricing doesn’t vary greatly for these stones, this chrysoprase buying guide will help you identify top-quality material for your project.
Reading time: 4 min 3 sec
chrysoprase buying guide - cabochon ring
With a smooth green hue that draws you in, the chrysoprase in this ring is simply stunning. At 63.65 cts, it’s quite a large one too! © Ben Day Jewelers. Used with permission.

Chrysoprase Buying and the Four Cs

The IGS chrysoprase value listing has price guidelines for cabochons.

Color

Chrysoprase is a green variety of chalcedony, a non-crystalline quartz. Colored by tiny inclusions of pimelite, this is a rare example of a green gem whose color arises from nickel. Chromium, which imparts a green hue in emerald, can also create green chalcedony. However, this chrome chalcedony constitutes a distinct gem variety from chrysoprase.

chrysoprase buying guide - bag of cabochons
Note the range of colors in this bag of chrysoprase cabochons. © Candala Chrysoprase. Used with permission.

Gemologists describe color using hue, tone, and saturation. For chrysoprase, the primary hue is green, and top-color gems are a bright, apple green. Secondary hues of yellow or blue may be present. However, secondary yellow hues are undesirable. Top-quality specimens won’t show these. Slight blue hues are more preferable. Some chrysoprase may even be blue-green or aqua in color.

chrysoprase buying guide - chrysoprase and tourmaline earrings
With attractive light green hues, the chrysoprase in these earrings complements indicolite tourmaline, while gray diamond adds sparkle. © Sam Woehrmann. Used with permission.

In chrysoprase, medium to medium-dark tones are ideal. This allows for a brightly saturated gem. Lighter tones can appear washed-out, and darker tones never reach the saturation of a medium-toned specimen. Sometimes, darker-toned chrysoprase is referred to as “prase.”

Clarity and Transparency

Because of the material’s abundance, chrysoprase should have excellent clarity. Thus, inclusions shouldn’t be visible to the eye. However, dendritic inclusions are sometimes present. For certain jewelry projects, their fractal, tree-like appearance may be quite desirable.

Because chalcedony is made of microcrystals, it doesn’t achieve the transparency of crystalline quartz. Instead, it’s semi-translucent to opaque and often appears milky. Among chrysoprases of the same color, transparency will determine the better specimen. In top-quality specimens, the translucence will even rival jade. However, larger and thicker pieces tend to be more opaque.

Cut

Chrysoprase, like other non-transparent gems, is generally cut en cabochon. Due to its abundance, lapidaries should cut away inclusions to create a flawless gem.

Some chrysoprase pieces are carved. For example, cameos, figurines, and abstract shapes are common uses of this gem. For such pieces, workmanship and artistic merit impart greater value than the stone itself.

chrysoprase buying guide - carved lizard
This chrysoprase lizard is poised to jump. © Candala Chrysoprase. Used with permission.

Carat

Large pieces of chrysoprase are available, and carat weight doesn’t have a large impact on per-carat price. However, large gems are less likely to display translucence. Thus, a large, translucent chrysoprase is a rarity that may come with a premium on price.

Jewelry Considerations

Chrysoprase is a hard and durable gem that will resist scratching and chipping. Suitable for any jewelry setting, this gem even makes a great accent stone for engagement rings.

Does Chrysoprase Fade in Sunlight?

Some people have reported that this gem’s color fades upon exposure to heat and sunlight, but lapidary Howard Denghausen hasn’t noticed any fading. The difference? The material’s origin.

While chrysoprase from European mines can fade and dry out in the sun, gems from Australia won’t. Nevertheless, exposure to excessive sunlight and heat isn’t recommended. To keep your chrysoprase jewelry looking great, store it in a dark jewelry box and reserve any European chrysoprase pieces for evening wear. If your jewelry does fade, try using a moist cloth to restore color.

Dyed Chrysoprase

Being a porous stone, dyed chrysoprase is readily available. Dyed specimens have bright, saturated color and are less expensive than untreated gems. However, some dyes can fade in sunlight or wash away with water. Still, dyed chrysoprase can be a great way to bring color to your jewelry.

chrysoprase buying guide - dyed chrysoprase beads necklace and earrings
Tumbled and dyed chrysoprase beads give this necklace and earring set great color. “Tree of Knowledge Necklace Set with Chrysoprase,” © Laurel Moon Jewelry. Used with permission.

Chrysoprase as a Jade Imitation

Very fine examples of chrysoprase can rival jade in color and translucence. Hence, chrysoprase can serve as a jade imitation, and some dealers use the misnomer “Australian jade” to refer to chrysoprase. While the imitation may convince non-experts, a gemologist or jeweler should be able to tell the difference between jade and chrysoprase. Fibrous structures, seen by shining a bright light through the stone, indicate that the gem is jade.

About the author
Addison Rice
A geologist, environmental engineer and Caltech graduate, Addison's interest in the mesmerizing and beautiful results of earth's geological processes began in her elementary school's environmental club. When she isn't writing about gems and minerals, Addison spends winters studying ancient climates in Iceland and summers hiking the Colorado Rockies.
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