Jade: The Precious Green Stone
Jade has been cherished for thousands of years. Jade jewelry inspires the wearer’s highest spiritual aspirations, yet is sensuous and luxurious enough to satisfy down-to-earth cravings. This precious stone attracts consumers with its rich heritage as much as by its beauty, durability, and rarity.
Archeologists discovered nephrite jade in the caves and huts that housed prehistoric humans. In China, Europe, and elsewhere around the world, Stone Age workers shaped this toughest of minerals into weapons, tools, ornaments, and ritual objects. Their carvings invoked the powers of heaven and earth and mystic forces of life and death.
The ancient relationship between this gemstone and humanity persisted into modern times. Jade is still important among native societies in New Zealand and parts of North America. In China, it evolved into an artistic tradition that has flourished for more than 3,000 years.
In Central America, the Mayans and the Aztecs prized jadeite jade. They used it for medicinal purposes as well as for jewelry, ornaments, and religious artifacts. The name jade comes from the Spanish expression piedra de ijada—literally “stone of the pain in the side.” Early Spanish explorers named it after they saw natives holding pieces of the stone to their sides to cure or relieve various aches and pains. In some cultures, jadeite also symbolizes prosperity, success, and good luck.
Jadeite reached its peak as an important artistic medium in China — where the gem-carving tradition was already thousands of years old. The first jadeite reached China from Burma (now known as Myanmar) in the late 1700s. Late eighteenth and early nineteenth century carvers created masterpieces that are still unsurpassed in concept, design, and technical execution.
Jade was the most prized luxury item where the price was determined according to the desire. It was also associated with good health, as seen with Empress Dowager Cixi. Empress Dowager Cixi had over 3,000 boxes of jade, and she massaged her face with jade every morning, received acupunctures using jade needles, and only drank from jade cups.
Two different gem materials can correctly be called jade. Jadeite is one of them, and the other is nephrite. Both are actually metamorphic rocks made up of tiny interlocking mineral crystals. These interlocking crystals make both gems exceptionally tough. Jadeite comes in a wide range of attractive colors. The coloration is often streaked or mottled, giving jadeite gemstones an interesting visual texture that carvers can use to create imaginative and intriguing effects.
Nephrite is also accepted as jade in the international gem and jewelry industry. It ranges from translucent to opaque and can be light to dark green, yellow, brown, black, gray, or white. Its colors tend to be more muted than jadeite’s, and they’re often mottled or streaked. There are many factors that go into determining the quality of a jade stone and if it is suitable for jewelry.
Modern gemologists use the word “jade” as a generic term for both nephrite and jadeite. These gems have been linked throughout history. In fact, the term jade has also been applied to a number of gems and ornamental materials that resemble jade, and even some manmade equivalents resembling jadeite and nephrite.
Where to Buy Jade Jewelry
Jade jewelry has been prized for centuries as a beautiful stone believed to have healing properties. To this day, jade is highly valued for its rich color and durability. If you are looking to add this precious green stone to your collection, Brittany’s Fine Jewelry can help you.