Chrysoprase is a leek-green to a bright-green chalcedony variety of Quartz. Its unusual color is due to the presence of approximately one per cent of an oxide of nickel in it. Though golden and yellowish tints of this gemstone occasionally meet.
The name of this semi-precious stone is derived from the Greek word that means golden leek, the term that refers to its color. Our ancestors believed that Chrysoprase is, in fact, a genuine Emerald, which, however, lost its color due to the influence of poison.
Unfortunately, Chrysoprase indeed may lose its wonderful leek-green (or apple-green) color under the effect of the sunlight. However, there is data that we can recover its color using the solution of nitrate of nickel.
The discovery of Chrysoprase belongs to the German (Prussian) officer, who found the specimen of this gem in 1740, in Silesia. However, some sources tell us that this gemstone has an earlier history, as this gem served as an element of the decoration of Wenzel Chapel (now St. Vitus Cathedral), built in the Czech Republic in the 14th century. This gem was a favorite stone of Frederick the Great. This Prussian king possessed two tables made of Chrysoprase. This gemstone also meets in a mosaic that decorates Emperor’s palace called Sans Souci (modern Sanssouci). Thanks to Frederick the Great of Prussia, Chrysoprase rapidly came in vogue in ancient Germany and subsequently in Europe.
Chrysoprase in Folklore
In addition to the official version, there is a charming Romanian legend describing the origin of Chrysoprase. The story says that Princess Trina was ready to sell her wedding gift to rescue her kingdom from poverty. This jewel was a precious lizard whose eyes made of Chrysoprase. However, the jeweler who created this jewel warned the princess that she must not break up with her mascot. He said that this talisman could endow her with the fabulous treasures. Furthermore, he made this lizard to help the princess to learn the animal language.
Trina cried and prayed for her kingdom. Suddenly, the lizard started to talk to her. The lizard said that the princess would find the solution to all the problems of her nation if she can find a secret spot close to the river. The princess followed the advice and headed to the river. She has examined almost the whole river and all its tributaries. When entirely exhausted and tired, she has discovered the abundant deposits of Chrysoprase. The number of gems containing in this mine was sufficient to provide her people and prosperity of the entire kingdom. From now on, the waters of the Râul Doamnei river obtained a leek-green color preserved up to our days.
The value of Chrysoprase depends, as a rule, on its color. Thus, the stones free of flaws are the most valuable.
According to the U.K. classification, Chrysoprase is the Birthstone appropriate for people born in May. However, Helen Bartlett Bridgman in her book “GEMS” (p. 86) claims that Chrysoprase is the Birthstone for December, according to Poles tradition.