Possibly one of the longest relationships between man and a gemstone would have to be with Jade. Early man utilized it as a tool, a body adornment, and a form of protection. It was easily fashioned into blades, axes, amulets, vessels and since it was relatively tough it held up very well. Eventually man held it in such high regard that it gained a status of supreme cult gem and was utilized to honor and praise various gods.
Two gemstones bear the name jade: nephrite and jadeite. Nephrite, first known as yu, was treasured by the Chinese for centuries. Its current name, and the word “jade,” both came from the Europeans via the Spanish conquistadors who invaded South America. Like the Chinese, the South Americans, especially the Aztecs, valued a particular green stone above all else, even gold. Also like the Chinese, they attributed healing powers to that stone. They often used their green gem to relieve urinary ailments. Because of this, the Spanish referred to it as the “stone of the loins” or sometimes, “stone of the kidneys.” Nephrite is derived from the Latin word for kidney, and jade is a corruption of the French word for loins.
All opaque green stones were known as nephrite or jade until the development of crystallography. At that time, mineralogists began classifying gemstones according to what minerals they were made from and how those minerals formed solid substances. In that process, they discovered that, despite the outward similarity, two completely different minerals were named jade.
Nephrite is the inexpensive and common form which is a fibrous variety of the actinolite- tremolite series; monoclinic crystal system. Its appearance can range from translucent to opaque. Its colors can range from dark green, yellow to brown, white, gray, black; often mottled.
They renamed the second stone jadeite. Although they both include silica, magnesium is the secondary mineral in nephrite while jadeite contains aluminum. Pure jade of either kind is white. Trace amounts of iron provide the green in nephrite; and jadeite, like emeralds, gets its green from chromium. Other chemical impurities yield other colors: nephrite may be beige, yellow, blue or black, among others.
Jadeite Jade appears as semitransparent to opaque. Colors can range from white, green, yellow to reddish orange, brown, gray, black, light purple (lavender); often mottled. Trade names for jadeite include Imperial Jade, gem jade, emerald jade, Yunan jade, kingfisher jade (intense medium green) and moss-in-snow which is translucent mottled white with green “streamers.”
Moh’s scale of hardness classifies jadeite as 6.5-7 and nephrite as 6-6.5. Jade, though quite durable and once used like steel in early tools, is susceptible to breaking and should be handled with care. It is not recommended to clean jade jewelry or figures using gem cleaner. In fact, it is often believe that jade will, over time, continue to darken in color by rubbing it for good luck and you wouldn’t want to wash it all away. We suggest a polishing cloth for cleaning your jade jewelry to maintain its beautiful shine.
Recently in Guatemala a huge discovery was made of Blue Jade. scientists exploring the wilds of Guatemala say they have found the mother lode — a mountainous region roughly the size of Rhode Island strewn with huge jade boulders, other rocky treasures and signs of ancient mining. It was discovered after a hurricane tore through the landscape and exposed the veins of jade, some of which turned up in stores, arousing the curiosity of scientists.
The find includes large outcroppings of blue jade, the gemstone of the Olmecs, the mysterious people who created the first complex culture in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, the region that encompasses much of Mexico and Central America. It also includes an ancient mile-high road of stone that runs for miles through the densely forested region.
The deposits rival the world’s leading current source of mined jade, in Myanmar, formerly Burma, the experts say. The implications for history, archaeology and anthropology are just starting to emerge.
White, blue-green, lavender, orange and red are the primary jadeite colors. Jadeite colors are usually more vivid than nephrite shades, especially the greens.
Because of this, jadeite is more highly valued than nephrite. Mineralogists and jewelers take care to distinguish between nephrite and jadeite. The general public continues to refer to either as jade. Although they first used nephrite, the Chinese now prefer jadeite because of its color. It’s been named Imperial Jade.
Other names, such as New Jade, Korean Jade, Stygian Jade, Pagoda stone, Mexican Jade and Indian Jade all refer to imitations. None of these are authentic jade. Poor quality jade may also be dyed.
When evaluating Jade remember the “three T’s”
Tone describes the specific quality of a color grade. The Finest colors are
“penetrating” and vivid from a distance. They should be pure. evenly
distributed and free of brown or gray tones.
Translucency ranges from near transparent to opaque. The Highest quality has a
body appearance that resembles honey.
Texture ranges from fine to coarse. The highest quality is clear and free of
When evaluating Jadeite remember the following important elements:
1. Intense Color.
2. Even Color.
3. Honey-like Transparency.
5. Watery Luster.
6. Smooth Finish.
7. Even Texture.
1. Dull Color.
2. Uneven Color.
4. Cloudy Appearance.
5. Dehydrated Appearance.
6. Surface Cracks.
7. Blotch Texture.
“When I evaluate a piece of Jade will it have inclusions?”
Yes, as with other gemstones you will notice naturally occurring inclusions. White inclusions are not to be concerned about, black inclusions detract from the beauty of the piece and will bring the value down. If the piece of jewelry is a cabochon cut, you will want a minimal amount of inclusions to possibly none. Otherwise it will definitely be noticeable. If you are looking at a carving that is very large and intricate, the inclusions will be hardly noticeable and in some cases may add character to the piece. If their are large cracks or fissures, avoid the piece.
People, especially the Chinese and the Aztecs, utilized jade in many ways through the centuries. It has functioned as money, played an important role in ceremonies, been made into art and jewelry and applied to the body or powdered and drunk as medicine. Those who attribute powers to crystals believe that jade brings love, healing, longevity, wisdom and prosperity.
Jade is well-known for its healing influence and it is a stone of primary importance to Orientals. Highly regarded as a peaceful stone, jade can also be used to help calm nervous minds and rid negative thoughts and energies.
A long time ago, there was a man who had a miraculous experience
which he believed was caused by a piece of jade in his possession.
When he died, he passed his jade on to his son. The jade was then
passed from one generation to the next with the belief that ‘jade keeps
you from evil and disasters’. This is part of jade’s deep attraction to
the Chinese, aside from its intrinsic beauty, also a symbol of protection.
Jade is the associated stone with the deities Kwan Yin and Buddha. Jade amplifies the chi energy promoting prosperity, healing, longevity and love. It promotes wisdom and understanding
In classical Chinese art, the precious gem Yu is the earthly embodiment of the cosmic principle that governs mental, ethical, and social life in the Middle Kingdom. With reverential awe, the purity, immortality, virtue and power that find expression in the “jewel of heaven” are given a shape subordinate to the natural material; the harmony of color and structure. Similarly, any irregularities are incorporated into the design. Guided by nothing more than intuition and with a distinct sensitivity for the nature of each gem, the carver first draws the miniature picture designed in his or her mind’s eye onto the smooth gemstone creating an object d’art after many weeks of work. With borrowed motifs, the tradition of the forefathers is continued into the present day.
Although some historians believe that the jade first used in China was imported, jade is currently mined there. It’s also mined in Myanmar (Burma), New Zealand, Siberia, South America and the United States.