The name jasper means "spotted or speckled stone", and is derived via Old French jaspre (variant of Anglo-Norman  jaspe) and Latin iaspidem (nom. iaspis)) from Greek ἴασπις iaspis, (feminine noun) from a Semitic language (cf. Hebrew יושפה yushphah, Akkadian yashupu).

Green jasper was used to make bow drills in Mehrgarh between 4th and 5th millennium BC. Jasper is known to have been a favourite gem in the ancient world; its name can be traced back in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Assyrian, Greek and Latin. On Minoan Crete, jasper was carved to produce seals circa 1800 BC, as evidenced by archaeological recoveries at the palace of Knossos.

Although the term jasper is now restricted to opaque quartz, the ancient iaspis was a stone of considerable translucency. The jasper of antiquity was in many cases distinctly green, for it is often compared with the emerald and other green objects. Jasper is referred to in the Niebelungenlied as being clear and green. Probably the jasper of the ancients included stones which would now be classed as chalcedony, and the emerald-like jasper may have been akin to the modern chrysoprase. The Hebrew word yushphah may have designated a green jasper.  Flinders Petrie suggested that the odem, the first stone on the High Priest's breastplate, was a red jasper, whilst tarshish, the tenth stone, may have been a yellow jasper.  (Wikipedia)

Buddstone is an attractive green and white metamorphosed chert that owes its colour to inclusions of chlorite, epidote and fuchsite. It exhibits complex swirling patterns, the result of extensive folding and distortion. The material takes a good finish, making interesting cabochons, beads, eggs and other ornamental objects. It became known as buddstone because it was originally discovered by Billy Budd in the Barberton district of South Africa. (Source “Gemstones – properties, identification and use.”  Arthur Thomas)

Dalmatian Stone, also called “Dalmatian Jasper”, is a white to cream-colored material with black spots that is produced in Chihuahua, Mexico. It reminds people of the dalmatian breed of dogs – and that is where it gets its name. It is very easily polished to a bright lustre and is a familiar semi-precious stone that is cut into beads, spheres, cabochons and carvings. It is also commonly seen as tumbled stones. Dalmatian stone is porous and readily accepts dye. Jasper is a microcrystalline variety of quartz but the composition of our dalmatian stone is much more interesting. It is a mixture of minerals and therefore it is a rock. The types of minerals in the rock are those that crystallize from a melt. So, instead of being a jasper, dalmatian stone is an igneous rock. (rocktumbler.com)

Puddingstone Jasper conglomerates are a distinct type of glacial erratic collected mostly from glacial drift. The conglomerates were derived from the North American region of the Canadian Shield that is present on St. Joseph Island and north and northwest of the Bruce Mines of Northern Ontario, approximately a 65 km east of  Sault Ste. Marie. This rock is derived from the Precambrian Lorrain Formation, which contains rocks associated with Precambrian (2200-2400 Mya) glaciation and the jasper conglomerates are attributed to sand and pebbles derived by erosion from older rocks and re-deposited as gravity flows in water. The red pebbles or cobbles in the conglomerate are fragments of jasper or banded iron formation. Later these materials were lithified to form conglomerates and transformed by heat and pressure to form quartzite conglomerates. The early British settlers in the Bruce Mines, called the jasper conglomerate “puddingstone”, because it looked like boiled suet pudding with cherries. (source:  Wikipedia)

Bloodstone - The martyr's gem Bloodstone, green jasper dotted with bright red spots of iron oxide, was treasured in ancient times and served for a long time as the birthstone for March. This attractive chalcedony quartz is also known as heliotrope because in ancient times polished stones were described as reflecting the sun: perhaps the appearance of the gem reminded the ancients of the red setting sun, mirrored in the ocean.

Medieval Christians often used bloodstone to carve scenes of the crucifixion and martyrs, for which reason it was also dubbed the martyr's stone. According to the legend about the origin of bloodstone, it was first formed when drops of Christ's blood fell and stained some jasper at the foot of the cross. A beautiful example of carved bloodstone with the seal of the German Emperor Rudolf II can be seen at the Louvre in Paris.

Even today, finely pulverised bloodstone is used as a medicine and aphrodisiac in India. Perhaps that explains why it is now rather difficult to find fine specimens of bloodstone on the market. Bloodstone is mined in India, Australia, and the United States. (www.gemstone.org)

Part two will follow next month