Ethereal, captivating, cool, serene, mystical, and subtle: All of these words apply to blue chalcedony. Its shades range from greyish blue to sky blue and the lavender blue. In 2015, GIA received a stunning bluish green chalcedony of African origin so striking they’ve given it its own name: aquaprase.
Quartz gone crypto
Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline variety of quartz. In simple terms this means the crystals are microscope or submicroscopic. How would geologists describe this? They’d say it is composed of “interwoven aggregates of microscopic and sub-microscopic quartz crystals.” That sounds simple enough — sort of! So what does this structure do for the gem? The cryptocrystalline structure makes chalcedony translucent or opaque because the tiny crystals scatter light.
Cryptocrystalline quartz includes all colors of agate, carnelian, chyroprase, onyx, and sardonyx. Their common structure makes them all chalcedony. But in the world of jewelry chalcedony is narrowly defined as a light blue translucent, waxy gemstone. This is sometimes referred to as “actual chalcedony.” Listed as 7 on the Mohs scale, it has good durability and takes an excellent polish that gives it the mystic glow from within.
What’s in a name?
The name “chalcedony” came from an ancient seaport Chalcedon, located near present day Istanbul (called Constantinople until the early 20th century). It was a major trading hub on the famed Silk Road trade route and Turkey has a 5,000 year history of jewelry making. It’s also rich in quartz gem resources that include many types of chalcedony: agate, carnelian, onyx, and blue chalcedony.
We’ve got a horse in this rodeo
High quality chalcedony deposits have been found worldwide from Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Mexico, to Turkey, Namibia, Madagascar, Indonesia and Taiwan. And right at home here too. Several western states have excellent quality chalcedony: Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, and Arizona. In fact, Oregon produces a popular blue chalcedony with pink undertones giving it a lavender hue.
Way back when . . .
Chalcedony has been used for personal adornment for 75,000 years. During that time is was largely organic shapes with minimal refinement. By 1800 BCE, it had come into its own. Archaeologists have discovered chalcedony seals, jewelry, and tools dating back that far. The Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, and Babylonians all treasured it. And many Native Americans tribes consider chalcedony sacred and use it in ceremonial gatherings.
Ebb and flow
Chalcedony’s popularity varies but it’s always in style. Recently, it’s been very popular, vitalized by boho fashions, New Age devotees, Millennials, and all customers who appreciate its ethereal quality and natural beauty. It has attracted even more attention because the pale lavender shade you’ll find in our calibrated gemstones are an excellent match for “Serenity,” Pantone’s Color of the Year.
What powers do you want?
Through the millennia, chalcedony has been associated with an unusual number of psychological and physical powers. I have to say that in the 20 months I’ve been writing Sell With A Story, I haven’t encountered a gemstone with quite this many. I’ve combined powers where at all possible and the lists I’ve found include more than I’m featuring.
Psychological/emotional advantages to wearing chalcedony include:
- Improved self-esteem.
- Enhanced open-mindedness, light-heartedness, optimism, and enthusiasm.
- Less self-doubt.
- Greater benevolence and generosity.
- Ability to ward off negative energy.
- Fewer hostilities.
The physical advantages are just as great. Chalcedony:
- Enhances the immune system.
- Improves mineral absorption.
- Increases energy and vitality.
- Sharpens memory and focus.
- Heals respiratory system from the effects of smoking.
- Improves the circulatory systems.
- Enhances ability to learn new languages.
- Heals fever, gallstones and eye problems.