History of Chrysoprase

Chrysoprase is apple-green Chalcedony, which is considered the most valuable type of Chalcedony among gemologists. Its name comes from the Greek khryso prasos (or golden green). It has an ancient history and is included in many ancient and medieval lapidaries, texts about gemstones and their powers, but has few legends connected to it.

Chrysoprase was mentioned in the Bible, in the Book of Revelations, as the 10th foundation stone of the New Jerusalem. Later Christian texts, dating back as early as the 7th century, also associate Chrysoprase with the Apostle Thaddeus. In some of the Church writings, the Foundation Stones were described in great detail and reasons were given for why each stone was chosen. Unfortunately, some of these writers were much better versed in spiritual lore than in geology! For example, in the 12th century Aberdeen Bestiary (a text which describes animals, plants, and minerals according to Christian dogma) the author clearly had never seen a Chrysoprase. He described the apple-green stone as, “purple in color and separate small gold marks.”

One of the few non-Christian legends associated with Chrysoprase, connects the stone to Alexander the Great. According to stone lore, the great general wore a Chrysoprase on his belt which he wore into battle. The gem made Alexander invisible to his enemies and so he could slaughter them without fear of injury. When Alexander reached the Euphrates, he took off his belt and a snake bit off the stone and dropped it into a river! From that point onward, Alexander had to rely on luck and skill alone, with no magic to aid him.

Alexander The Great, Chrysoprase

Alexander the Great Mosaic