Picture Jasper: Properties, Types, Uses, Occurrence

Picture jasper is a variety of jasper, known for its intricate patterns resembling landscapes, deserts, or abstract art. These patterns are created by inclusions of iron and manganese oxides within the quartz.

Picture jasper is a variety of jasper, a microcrystalline form of quartz. It's opaque with a dull to waxy luster, but its defining feature is the presence of dendritic and brecciated inclusions that create mesmerizing landscape-like patterns. These patterns, along with its earthy color palette, are what make picture jasper a sought-after gemstone for jewelry, carvings, and decorative objects.

Picture jasper comes in many forms, each with its own special colors and patterns. These differences are caused by different minerals mixed inside the tiny quartz crystals. For example, red "poppy jasper" has a mineral called hematite, while blue "ocean jasper" has chalcopyrite and azurite. And some types, like "brecciated jasper," are made when pieces of different jaspers break and stick together, creating bold contrasts.

Picture Jasper


How Picture Jasper is Formed

Picture jasper's formation is a multi-step process involving both sedimentary and hydrothermal processes:

Sedimentation: Millions of years ago, silica-rich sediments and volcanic ash accumulated in ancient bodies of water or on land. These sediments contained varying amounts of iron, manganese, and other minerals.

Silica Replacement: Over time, silica-rich fluids (often hydrothermal solutions) circulated through these sediments, gradually replacing the original materials with microcrystalline quartz. This process preserved the original textures and color variations in the sediment, laying the groundwork for the patterns we see in picture jasper.

Oxidation and Precipitation: As the silica replacement occurred, iron and manganese within the sediments oxidized and formed various mineral inclusions, such as hematite, magnetite, and psilomelane. These inclusions are responsible for the vibrant colors and dendritic patterns that characterize picture jasper.

Lithification and Burial: Over millions of years, the sediments and their replacements hardened and compacted under pressure and temperature, eventually forming the jasper we know today. The specific conditions during this process further influenced the final textures and patterns of picture jasper.


Picture Jasper rough
Rough Picture Jasper

Picture Jasper Properties

Composition: Picture jasper, a captivating variety of chalcedony, is primarily composed of microcrystalline quartz (SiO₂). However, its defining characteristic lies in the presence of dendritic and brecciated inclusions. These inclusions comprise iron oxides (Fe₂O₃, FeO), manganese oxides (MnO₂, Mn₂O₃), and other minerals, imparting the stunning landscapes and patterns that distinguish picture jasper.

Color: A vibrant palette of earthy tones, including reds, browns, yellows, oranges, greens, and blues. The inclusions create unique swirls, bands, and formations, resembling landscapes, deserts, or abstract art.

Luster: Picture jasper has a dull to waxy luster, lacking the sparkly brilliance of other gemstones. This subdued shine adds to its natural and earthy appeal.

Crystal System: Due to its microcrystalline nature, picture jasper doesn't exhibit a defined crystal system.

Streak: When scratched, picture jasper will leave a white to brown streak, depending on the dominant color of the stone.

Hardness: Picture jasper is a relatively hard stone, measuring 6-7 on the Mohs scale. This makes it suitable for jewelry and carvings.

Cleavage: Picture jasper lacks cleavage, meaning it won't break along predictable planes. However, it can fracture conchoidally, meaning in smooth, curved lines.

Crystal Form: Picture jasper is usually found as massive, botryoidal, or brecciated formations. It can also occur in nodules, pebbles, and tumbled stones.

Density: Picture jasper has a density of 2.55 - 2.85 g/cm³, which is slightly heavier than water.

Transparency: Picture jasper is opaque, meaning light cannot pass through it.

Fracture: As mentioned earlier, picture jasper can fracture conchoidally, resulting in smooth, curved breaks.

Specific Gravity: The specific gravity of picture jasper is the same as its density, ranging from 2.55 to 2.85.

Solubility: Picture jasper is practically insoluble in water and most acids, making it a durable gemstone.

Magnetism: Most varieties of picture jasper are non-magnetic. However, some specimens with higher iron oxide content might exhibit weak magnetism.

Fluorescence: Picture jasper does not fluoresce under ultraviolet light.

Pleochroism: Some picture jasper varieties, especially those with banded colors, might show weak pleochroism. This means the color can appear slightly different depending on the viewing angle.

Refractive Index: The refractive index of picture jasper varies depending on its composition, ranging from 1.53 to 1.55.

Inclusions: The star of the show! Dendritic and brecciated inclusions of iron oxides, manganese oxides, and other minerals are what create the mesmerizing patterns we associate with picture jasper. These inclusions, like tiny brushstrokes, paint the landscapes and abstract designs seen in polished pieces.

Types Picture Jasper


Types Picture Jasper

Ocean Jasper

Appearance: Characterized by spherulitic and botryoidal textures, Ocean Jasper exhibits concentric rings of cryptocrystalline quartz in various shades of green, pink, red, yellow, and white, primarily on a blue, green, or white chalcedony matrix.

Poppy Jasper

Appearance: Predominantly composed of microcrystalline quartz, Poppy Jasper displays vibrant red colorations ranging from iron oxide inclusions, with potential trace elements like manganese and hematite contributing to the variation in hue (scarlet to coral). White or green chalcedony inclusions may be present.

Dalmatian Jasper

Appearance: Featuring a distinctive leucocratic (light-colored) chalcedony matrix speckled with melanocratic (dark-colored) inclusions of iron oxides and manganese oxides, Dalmatian Jasper exhibits a polka-dot pattern with black or dark grey spots on a white or light grey background.

Elephant Skin Jasper

Appearance: Elephant Skin Jasper displays a weathered, textured surface characterized by a network of anastomosing (interconnected) veins and mottling of iron and manganese oxides, primarily in shades of grey and brown. The microcrystalline quartz matrix contributes to the overall hardness and durability.

Kaleidoscope Jasper

Appearance: A mosaic of microcrystalline quartz and chalcedony, Kaleidoscope Jasper exhibits a vibrant and diverse color palette due to a combination of iron oxides, manganese oxides, and trace elements like chromium and vanadium. The intricate intermingling of these minerals creates swirling and blending patterns, reminiscent of a kaleidoscope's vibrant display.


Picture Jasper hearts
Picture Jasper hearts

Where is Picture Jasper Found

Picture jasper is found in a variety of locations around the world, each offering unique characteristics and beauty.

Indonesia: Renowned for its vibrant and colorful picture jasper, particularly the popular poppy jasper with its fiery reds and oranges and ocean jasper with its calming blues and greens.

Madagascar: Another source of stunning picture jasper, with colorful red, yellow, and green varieties and unique patterns.

Australia: Home to several unique picture jasper formations, including the rhyolite jasper with its red and orange swirls and the mookaite jasper with its blend of reds, yellows, purples, and greens.

United States: Deposits are found in Oregon, Wyoming, and California, often with landscape patterns resembling the local environments. Oregon's Owyhee jasper is particularly prized for its desert-like scenes.

Brazil: Known for its brecciated picture jasper with bold color contrasts and striking patterns.

Other Notable Locations: India, China, Namibia, and South Africa also have deposits of picture jasper, each with its own distinctive characteristics.


Tree - Picture Jasper
Tree - Picture Jasper

Picture Jasper Uses

Picture jasper's captivating beauty and unique properties lend it to a variety of uses, both practical and artistic. Here's a glimpse into the world of picture jasper applications:


Cabochons and pendants: Picture jasper's mesmerizing patterns and diverse colors make it a stunning choice for cabochons and pendants. The polished surface accentuates the intricate details, creating unique and eye-catching pieces.

Beads: Picture jasper beads add a touch of natural elegance to bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry. Their earthy tones and patterns can complement various styles, from bohemian to minimalist.

Carvings: Skilled artisans can transform picture jasper into intricate carvings, depicting landscapes, animals, or even abstract forms. These carvings showcase the gemstone's full potential and make for truly unique and treasured pieces.

Decorative Objects

Sculptures: Large picture jasper specimens can be carved into stunning sculptures, capturing the essence of nature or abstract forms. These sculptures add a touch of sophistication and natural beauty to any space.

Mosaics and inlays: Picture jasper's diverse colors and patterns can be used to create stunning mosaics and inlays. These can adorn furniture, walls, or even floors, adding a touch of artistry and individuality to any interior.

Objects d'art: Picture jasper's captivating nature inspires artists to create unique objects d'art, such as paperweights, decorative bowls, and even miniature landscapes. These pieces showcase the gemstone's beauty and versatility, making them perfect for collectors and art enthusiasts.

Picture Jasper Beads
Picture Jasper Beads


Metaphysical and Spiritual Uses

Grounding and stabilizing: Picture jasper is believed to possess grounding and stabilizing energies, connecting individuals to the Earth's natural rhythm. Some people use it for meditation, holding it or wearing it to promote a sense of calm and centeredness.

Creativity and imagination: The intricate patterns within picture jasper are said to spark creativity and imagination. Artists and writers often use it as a source of inspiration, allowing its natural artistry to guide their own creative pursuits.

Inner peace and balance: Ancient lore associates picture jasper with inner peace and balance. Some people believe wearing or meditating with it can promote emotional equilibrium and harmony within the spirit.

Picture jasper
Picture jasper slab



Picture jasper is not just a gemstone; it's a captivating story etched in stone. Understanding its formation, composition, and properties deepens our appreciation for its captivating beauty and geological significance.

Read also:
Red Jasper - Properties, Uses, Occurrence
Bumblebee Jasper - Formation, Properties, Uses, Occurrence

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