Gemmologist’s Corner - Chrysoprase

The exquisite apple - green colour of Chrysoprase is both cheerful and calming at the same time

19/03/2024     Jewellery & Gems

As St. Patrick’s day approaches what better time to celebrate the colour green, the exquisite apple - green colour of Chrysoprase is both cheerful and calming at the same time and is one of my favourite stones. It is semi – transparent to almost transparent and displays a bright green colour which is only rivalled by it’s more expensive counterpart Emerald.  

Chrysoprase is a variety of Chalcedony or micro – crystalline quartz, other varieties of Chalcedony include Onyx, Agate and Carnelian but Chrysoprase is the most revered because of its almost emerald – green colour. Nature bestows Emerald with Chromium to cause its green hue but in the case of Chrysoprase, the colour is caused by the presence of nickel.

It has been popular as ornament throughout history and is said to have been the favourite stone of Alexander the Great, the Victorians used it along with the other Chalcedonies as cabochons, beads, intaglios and seals.

After Queen Victoria’s beloved Prince Albert died there was a long period of mourning and not much colour was used in fashion or jewellery. In the 20th Century there was an explosion of colour in jewellery which can be seen throughout the Art Deco era, Mid – Century and beyond, Chrysoprase fitted well into this and you see many of the famous jewellery houses such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron and Tiffany using this material along with other brightly coloured gemstones. Van Cleef are perhaps best known for their use of Chalcedony, which pairs well with yellow gold and can be seen in much of their jewellery.

We are offering two stunning Van Cleef & Arpels pieces this month using Chrysoprase, the first is lot 296; a vintage gold brooch, modelled as a four-leaf clover, each leaf inset with a shaped chrysoprase and  lot 312; a c. 1960’s bracelet with alternating marquise cabochon stones and textured gold links.

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