About the Properties of Carnelian and Jasper

Carnelian is a clear red translucent chalcedony and Jasper is an impure opaque quartz.


Carnelian is a clear red translucent chalcedony, and is usually of a gray or grayish-red color. Several weeks of exposure to the sun's rays and subsequent heating in earthen pots enhances and deepens the color.

The brownish-red or dark-brown carnelian is called sardoine or sard; the blood-red to pink varieties, with an upper layer of white onyx, are called carnelian onyx, and the stones with a brown or sard base and a white top are called sard-onyx.

Carnelians are sometimes of a yellowish-brown or yellow color, but red to brown are the principal colors.

The secret of coloring agates was discovered in the early part of this century, and about the same time agates became scarce in Oberstein, while large finds were made in Brazil and Uruguay, especially of agates with red layers. This variety comes chiefly from Brazil.

Besides Uruguay and Brazil, carnelian is found in Arabia and India. The most beautiful specimens of intaglios are engraved on sardoine, and some of the finest cameos extant are of sard and carnelian onyx.


Jasper is an impure opaque quartz, usually containing more iron than agate, and lacking the quality of translucency. Jasper occurs in red, brown, ochre-yellow, dark green, brownish-green, grayish-black, and grayish-blue; sometimes containing bands or spots or quartz formations, and often found with regular zones or bands of various colors.

Egyptian jasper or Egyptian pebbles are names given to varieties that are usually brown with inner bands of lighter hue, approaching cream in color, and sometimes having dark bands with spots or markings.

Egyptian jasper is found near Grand Cairo, and other varieties are found in the Urals, Saxony, Devonshire, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the United States.

The specific gravity of jasper varies from 2.31 to 2.67; it scratches glass, but yields to rock-crystal.

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