Jasper is a form of microcrystaline quartz. Its name comes from the Greek word, iaspis, which means “Spotted Stone.” Jasper comes in many colors and patterns, but is most often red, brown, or green. Jasper is what I refer to as a “First Cousin” to agate. Both semiprecious stones are microcrystaline quartz. The difference between them is the size and shape of the quartz microcrystals. Those in jasper are small, round grains of quartz crystal, which pack together tightly like bee-bees in a jar. Thus, jasper is usually opaque. Agate, on the other hand, has slightly larger fibrous quartz crystals, which results in it being translucent in most cases.
Many jaspers are actually metamorphic rocks. In cases like Picture Jasper, the colorful patterns result from other minerals that are present in the specimen. Picture Jasper primarily comes from Idaho and Oregon. It formed when mud rich with quartz oozed and dripped into pockets of gas formed by molten lava. The heat from the exposure turned the mud solid almost instantly. Therefore, Picture Jasper is actually petrified or silicified mud. Because of its interesting patterns, it has been used as a psychological tool: the researcher will ask a client who is “looking for an answer” to gaze into the stone and describe all the symbols he sees. The researcher then works with the client to form the symbols into some sort of answer. Picture jasper is said to help with the re-evaluation of life’s issues. It is also believed to facilitate development and continuance of business pursuits and activities. It can also be used in meditation to encourage balance, as well as to help you to improve your self confidence and courage.