Smokin' Stones: The Great "Jasper" Gemstone Riddle

Here's a gemstone riddle for you. When is jasper not necessarily jasper? When it's Red Creek "jasper" from China! And frankly, it's not red either–although there are some lovely red tones in it, along with exquisite shades of yellow, green, brown, and gray.


Karla's Red Creek jasper necklace.
Photo by the artist.

But no matter what it's called, Red Creek "jasper" is stunning! Only on the market for four or five years now, this gemstone has become immensely popular. Personally, it's one of my favorites, and I love to use it when making jewelry.

Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist even selected Red Creek Stone as the magazine's Smokin' Stone for the December 2010 issue. As in all the publication's Smokin' Stone articles, author Sharon Elaine Thompson gives a wealth of information about this gemstone. Red Creek "jasper" is kind of an unknown among stones used for jewelry making. It's softer than other quartz-based stones (like true jaspers) and can have a granite-like appearance, but testing to determine its exact makeup is incomplete.

Red Creek "jasper" rough.
Photo by Jim Lawson.

Red Creek "jasper" is relatively inexpensive, and while soft and easily cracked, it makes lovely beads and is best used for necklaces, pendants, brooches, and earrings–jewelry that gets the least daily wear and isn't subjected to hard knocks the way rings and bracelets can be.

Oh, and the name? Yes, the stone was named for the stream that runs through the area of China in which it was discovered.

And there's even more about Red Creek "jasper" in the December 2010 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist! Lexi Erickson designed a fabulous pendant using the stone combined with a piece of red Sonoran Sunrise and an antique Chinese coin. (Happily, the issue contains step-by-step instructions for making this delightful project! There are even instructions for an easier way to make the pendant yourself.)


Lexi's Red Creek Pendant.
Photo by Jim Lawson.

In the issue, Lexi explained why she chose Red Creek "jasper": "The colors range from bright oranges and yellows to various greens and quickly caught my eye. Think of Technicolor Picasso stone, and you have a pretty good idea of what this looks like."

Lexi further explained, "The inspiration for this pendant in my Southwestern colors was a piece designed by Harold O'Connor and his interpretation of the gates of a well-known Taos artist's home and studio. I wanted something serene, elegant, and multicultural, like the artist's home."

Red Creek "jasper" cabs.
Photo by Jim Lawson.

I must admit that that's one my favorite things about studying gemstones–finding out what they inspire in jewelry artists and seeing what they create from them. It's also why I love the Smokin' Stones articles in every issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Not only do you get fantastic facts about each stone, but you'll also find accompanying projects and/or feature articles that really bring the gemstones to life.

You can find your favorite stones in the back issues of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist–which happen to be on sale right now in the Jewelry Making Daily Shop. And if you don't have a favorite stone, reading the Smokin' Stones and other gem-related articles in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist will surely help you find one!

Don't forget to pop by the forums of Jewelry Making Daily to tell us all about your favorite stones (or share in the comments below). Then show us what you've made from them in the Gallery!

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