Deschutes Jasper

Deschutes Jasper is relatively similar to Biggs Jasper and is often miss identified but don’t worry we outline multiple ways to tell the difference. Just so you know, the main difference between the two Jaspers is the picturesque landscape patterns are more detailed in Deschutes Jasper than in Biggs Jasper.

If you’re new to collecting Jaspers then you’ll want to understand the basics. First, Jasper is an opaque, fine-grained variety of Chalcedony which is comprised of microscopic Quartz crystals intermixed with various impurities. Jasper can come in any color and take on many appearances.

More often than not, varieties of Jasper get their name from the locations they’re found in.

If you spend time at a rock and mineral show you’ll see quite a few dealers selling all sorts of varieties of Jasper but they’re not all genuine Jasper. Many of them are actually Rhyolite. Among the best-known Jaspers are Bloodstone, Porcelain Jasper, Brecciated Jasper, and Picture Jasper. Deschutes Jasper falls in the Picture Jasper category.


FAQ For Deschutes Jasper

While it’s believed that Deschutes Jasper was initially discovered by Native Americans, the discovery of this picturesque stone is attributed to Hoot Elkins. The claim states that Hoot discovered Deschutes in the 1960s.

If you know anything about history then it’s very plausible this variety of Jasper was dug and used by Native Americans but our history books attribute the discovery to Mr. Elkins.

It’s been said that Hoot first discovered some ancient rock hammers in a fifteen-foot pit. As he further explored the pit, he found a massive boulder of Deschutes Jasper that showed signs that it was knapped, which means those hammers likely belonged to the Native Americans (if you don’t understand the knapping then take a look at this YouTube video to learn more.)


Deschutes Jasper and Biggs Jasper cabs


Deschutes Jasper is often confused with another well-known Jasper variety, Biggs Jasper. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between the two but the main difference is the tight pattern exhibited in Deschutes Jasper whereas Biggs Jasper has a more landscape pattern.

You’ll also notice the quality of the polish on the cabochons because Deschutes Jasper will typically have a better overall polish which will show off the light, medium, and dark brown wavy patterns. This is the main reason why lapidary artists love working with it.


How Does Deschutes Jasper Form?

Deschutes Jasper form when fine pyroclastics or volcanic ash are cemented into a solid material from silica precipitation. This cementation process can sometimes be so aggressive that the ash, sediment, or volcanic particles are dissolved or recrystallized into microcrystalline Quartz. These particles are what give Jasper its color and opacity.

Did you know, an opaque variety of Chalcedony that can be called Jasper?


Deschutes Jasper cabochons


How To Identify Deschutes Jasper

Deschutes Jasper often contains Dendrite inclusions. As mentioned above, this variety of Jasper was formed as mud, derived primarily from volcanic ash that filled the crevices and later solidified. There are various ways to identify stones; you simply have to know what to look for. You can conduct multiple tests, including hardness, streak, and specific gravity. Let’s look at the details.


Hardness: 6.5 to 7

Streak: Yellow, White, Brown, and Red

Specific Gravity: 2.500-2.600

Toughness: Excellent

Inclusions: Jasper is sometimes dyed to make it look like Lapiz but won’t have Pyrite or Calcite inclusions with higher luster. The stone naturally contains a finely-grained structure.

Luster: Waxy, Dull, Greasy

Fracture: Conchoidal, Granular, Uneven

Cleavage: None

Transparency: Opaque

Refractive Index: 1.532 – 1.539

Dispersion: None

Birefringence: 0.004


Biggs Junction Oregon


Where Is Deschutes Jasper Found?

The Deschutes Jasper deposit is just west of the famous Biggs Jasper deposit and Biggs Junction, Oregon. It was a small open pit on a hill above the highway just east of the mouth of the Deschutes River. Again, it’s no longer available to dig because it’s been included in a State Park, and the site was eventually covered by the highway.

While it’s not quite possible to go out to collect Deschutes Jasper, it can be purchased in various places. Check around at some of the rock and gem trade shows, lapidaries, and jewelers. The stone can also be found through different online sellers. Here’s a great Deschutes Jasper seller on Instagram.

Jerred Morris
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