Jasper is a fairly general term that can refer to any opaque variety of chalcedony or aggregation of microcrystalline quartz (crystals too small to be individually visible). Jaspers can be quite colorful due to mineral impurities in the silica, and are typically multi-colored. Reds, oranges and browns caused by iron oxide impurities are the most common colors.

There are hundreds if not thousands of named varieties of jasper. Many have trade names based on where they are found or how they look, and similar jaspers can be popularly known by many different names. Part of the appeal of jasper is its interesting color patterns and formations: each piece is unique! Some stones that have jasper in their name are not actually jasper. For example, Bumblebee Jasper is not actually a jasper, since it contains almost no silica and is mostly calcite-based.

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