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
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.
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
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.