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Beautiful Biggs jasper


Biggs jasper is one of my favorite gemstones, and one I like to use for all kinds of jewelry.


The swirly layered stone is usually seen in brown but sometimes you can find it with blue tones.


What is Biggs?

Biggs japser is named for Biggs Junction, Oregon, where the gemstone was discovered in 1964 when I-84 was being built. The exact place of discovery is said to be along US-97 near the intersection of I-84. The "junction" of Biggs Junction, however, is named for the junction of the Union Pacific railroad line to Grass Valley, Oregon and the Columbia Southern line to Kent, Oregon. The "Biggs" of Biggs Junction is W.H. Biggs, who settled the area in 1880. He was a pioneer and prominent citizen who served in the legislature and was an advocate for the railroad.


It is said that previous to this jasper being mined in 1964, Native Americans used the stone in their jewelry. Unfortunately I could not find any information or examples of this. I will keep looking, however.


Jasper or Agate?

When it comes to jasper gemstones, of the things I have always wondered is, "What is the difference between jasper and agate?" Once you know the difference, it is clear that Biggs is a jasper. First of all, if you thought agate and jasper were similar, you were right. Both are forms of chalcedony, and chalcedony is a microcrystalline quartz, which means that the quartz crystals in chalcedony are so small that they can only be seen through a microscope. This means that when the chalcedony is broken, the resulting smooth curved (conchoidal) fractures are waxy instead of glassy. So, jasper and agate are not glassy, or as we sometimes say "gemmy" gemstones.


Chalcedony is good for jewelry because it is hard -- a 7 on the Mohs scale. Anyway, the main difference between jasper and agate is that agate is transparent to semi-transparent and jasper is opaque. That is the easiest way to tell the difference. Agate is also banded, while jasper is not, and agate can also contain dendritic, mossy, and plumed formations. And yes, it is possible for a specimen to have both agate and jasper formations together!


However, Biggs is clearly a jasper.


Biggs jasper for jewelry

When it comes to making jewelry, I have most often seen Biggs jasper in bolo ties and bracelets. The nice thing about Biggs jasper for fiber and gemstone is you can play a lot with color for the fiber and still take nothing away from the gemstone.


Biggs jasper bracelet with Lunar and Russet fiber

Biggs jasper earrings with Brunette fiber and Swarovski mint alabaster beads

Whatever form of jewelry you can find, Biggs jasper always looks great if you are looking for something earthy and neutral; and because there is to date only the one mine in Biggs Junction, Oregon, the stone is becoming rare. I see the price for the gemstone only going up, which is unusual for a jasper gemstone. It might be something you would like to have for your collection.


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