Chrysoprase

History:

This material has been mentioned as early in history as 23 AD, but was not mined commercially until about 1740. Chrysoprase was popular in the time of the Greeks and Romans when it was cut into cameos and intaglios. In Egypt it was set next to lapis lazuli and also made into beads.

It was used lavishly in Europe until the deposits being mined in Silesia were exhausted and it became rare and expensive. The great jewellery designer, Peter Carl Fabergé, in some of his most exquisite works, often used chrysoprase.

Chrysoprase was a particular favourite of Frederick the Great of Prussia. He adorned his opulent palace at Potsdam, named Sans Souci, with objects and furniture made in whole or part of chrysoprase. All of the material for these works (among them, two all-chrysoprase tables) came from a find in what is now Poland but was then Silesia.

This stone was the favourite jewel or stone of Queen Anne of England and has remained popular all the way through the reign of Queen Victoria.

It can be seen today decorating many buildings in beautiful Prague, including the Chapel of St. Wencelas.

Lore:

The Book of Revelations (21:20) describes the holy city of Jerusalem with its 12 foundation walls, each decorated with precious gemstones, including the tenth, being chrysoprase.

According to Alburtus Magnus: The always victorious Alexander the Great wore a chrysoprase stone in his girdle. One day a snake bit the stone off the girdle and dropped it in the river. From that time forward, Alexander never won another battle.

According to the 11th Century Byzantine manuscript of Michael Psellius, chrysoprase was believed to strengthen vision and relieve internal pain.

In the Middle Ages it was believed that if you put a piece of chrysoprase in your mouth, you would become invisible. It was thought that the stone would lose its color in the presence of poison.

 

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