Chrysanthemum Stone
by Art Smith
Houston Gem & Mineral Society Member

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 couple of months ago a fellow member of the Society asked what I knew about chrysanthemum stoneWhite chrysanthemum on black matrix from China. I replied, “Not much, but I found an article a couple of years ago when I bought a chrysanthemum stone frog for my lapidary stone frog collection.”

For those who are not sure what I am writing about, the chrysanthemum flower stone (or just chrysanthemum stone) consists of a two-dimensional radiating mineral “frozen” in matrix that looks like a flower, in particular, a chrysanthemum. The stone may naturally expose the “flower” or more frequently it is carved or sand blasted to expose the “flowers” and to form the rock into irregular but somewhat artistic shapes. The rock with the “flowers” may be smoothed or polished to give it a finished look. Such products are very popular in the Far East. In recent years, small rocks with chrysanthemums have been fairly common in mineral shows in other countries. The outstanding specimen shown to the right was photographed by Jack Lowell of www.ColoradoGem.com. It came from the Lai Mine (Quarry), Hunan Province, China and is an exceptionally rare piece of limestone with four sharp patterns.

In China many of the chrysanthemum stones are found in Hunan Province, Kiuyan County along the Yung River (Li 1990). Here the matrix is Permian age Quixia Limestone. The chrysanthemum petals are blades of white to pale bluish gray, rarely transparent, bladed celestine crystals that radiate from a small chert nodule center (Li 1990). In some specimens the blades of celestine have been replaced by white calcite, and the matrix may be dyed a dark color to give a nice contrast between matrix and “flower.” When radiating celestine blades have a diameter of one inch or less, they can be more equal in width and length. Frequently in the larger radiations, the blades of celestine may be variable in width and length. Some blades dominate, being much longer and wider than the others, and so the radiation has less of a chrysanthemum appearance.

The Fun Stone, a shop in the Hong Kong Mall on Bellaire Boulevard has a large polished stone with a very large chrysanthemum dominating it. The larger blades are 6 or 7 inches long and almost 2 inches wide. My own small frog has a white chrysanthemum on its back. The blades are unequal, and a little acid tells me the celestine has been replaced by calcite—and the black color of the limestone indicates it has probably been dyed.

Li (1990) also mentions similar stones from Hunan but in Luxi County. Also he mentions andalusite chrysanthemums that probably occur in a metamorphic rock from near Bejing.

Chrysanthemum stone called “Kiku-ishi” comes from a Hill called Maru-Yama just north of Mount Funabas in Gifu Prefecture Japan (Webster and Anderson 1983). The chrysanthemum petals are phenocrysts of zircon and xenotine in basalt, an igneous rock. A similar rock occurs on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Zeitner (1996) mentions white phenocrysts forming chrysanthemums in a gray-green basaltic matrix and green flowers in a charcoal gray basalt matrix also from British Columbia.

It is obvious that the matrix rock is not important. It can be igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary. It is the overall aesthetics of the flowers and the appearance of the finished product that is important to the Oriental buyer.

References:

Li, J. 1990 Chrysanthemums. Lapidary Journal 44(4):41.

Webster, R. and B. W. Anderson 1983 Gems, Descriptions and Identification. 4th. Butterworths, London, 1006p.

Zeitner, J. C. 1996 Gem and Lapidary Materials for Cutters, Collectors, and Jewelers.  Geoscience Press, Tucson, AZ. 347p.