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Griffin scarab
MFA# 62.1153


Babylonian amulet
MFA# 98.697

A translucent, quartz stone with usually a waxy luster. Chalcedony has tiny microscopic crystals that are sometimes arranged in slender fibrous bands. Agates are a banded variety of chalcedony. A glassy red to brown chalcedony is known as Carnelian or Sard. A dull green variety colored with nickel oxide is called Chrysoprase. Plasma is a bright emerald green chalcedony that is called Bloodstone when it contains small red spots of Jasper or Hematite. Chalcedony has been mined or gathered since Paleolithic times. It was used as beads, amulets and seals and is still used as an ornamental stone and gemstone. The color and opacity can be changed by dyeing or heating.

Roman Chalcedony bust
MFA# 98.768

Synonyms and Related Terms

carnelian; sard; agate; chrysoprase; citrine; onyx; sardonyx; plasma; bloodstone; jasper; flint; plasma; Chalcedon (Deut.); calcedonia (Esp.); chalcédoine (Fr.); calcédoine (Fr.); chalcedon (Pol.); calcedônia (Port.); chalcedoon (Ned.)


Chalcedony or flint.TIF

Raman (MFA)

Quartz, collodion slide, 785 nm copy.tif



Physical and Chemical Properties

  • No visible crystals
  • Fracture = conchoidal, uneven, splintery
  • Luster = waxy to vitreous
  • Streak = white
  • Fluorescence = generally inert
  • Pleochroism = absent
Composition SiO2
Mohs Hardness 6.5-7.0
Density 2.59-2.61 g/ml
Refractive index 1.535 - 1.539
Birefringence undetectable to 0.004


Properties of Common Gemstones

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • Gem Identification Lab Manual, Gemological Institute of America, 2016.
  • Mineralogy Database: Quartz
  • Wikipedia: Chalcedony {Accessed Dec 2022)
  • Jack Odgen, Jewellery of the Ancient World, Rizzoli International Publications Inc., New York City, 1982
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Luciana and Tiziano Mannoni, Marble: the history of a culture, Facts on File Publications
  • A.Lucas, J.R.Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd., London, 4th edition, 1962
  • C.W.Chesterman, K.E.Lowe, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979
  • Sue Fuller, Rocks and Minerals, DK Publishing, Inc., New York City, 1995
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: "chalcedony" [Accessed December 4, 2001].
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 647
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998