Wednesday, April 11, 2012
J is for Jade
Jade... The most priceless stone on earth!
When someone says the word jade, what pops into your mind? Is it a green rock? Is it pink? Is it a mystical places in the orient? Could it be British Columbia? South America? Or could it be something like jewelry or carvings and statues?
No matter what you think of when you say the word jade it is always exciting to think about it.
Jade is a word that refers to 2 different of minerals that through the ages have both become known as jade-- Jadeite and Nephrite.
Jadeite is a solid or massive hard rock composed of sodium aluminum silicate. The color comes from trace amounts of chromium. This is the rock that was so highly prized by the Olmec & Maya’s empires as early as 3,000 B.C. Jadeite was Maya’s most precious material, far more valuable than gold, silver or other gemstones. They carved sacred symbols in jadeite for 2,500 years before being destroyed by the Spanish. Electric or vibrant green jade was prized above all other colors. Jadeite comes in lavenders, blues, oranges, and other soft pastel green colors.
Jadeite is also found in New Zealand, Australia, China, Burma, etc.
Nephrite is a more fibrous form of jade and is a calcium magnesium silicate. It has a larger color palette including white, every shade of green, creamy whites and yellows, and black. The most prized and precious nephrite to this day in China is the translucent white.
Nephrite was considered the most precious stone of all history by the Chinese. At one point in history ALL jade found in China belonged to the emperor who called it the “Stone of Heaven”.
Good quality nephrite is found in China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Wyoming and California.
–Yes, we have nephrite in Utah as well in colors of pink, solid white, and pale green. It is a lower quality and not as prized as other nephrites.
Many of the carved little trinkets and pendants you see made of jade are really not jade. They are just quartzite or some other rock that resembles jade. Dealers from all over the world often consider any green rock that is carved jade. Buyer beware.
There are hundreds of great stories to be told about jade but I will refer everyone to the book by Fred Ward called Jade. We sell this book in the store and it is a wonderful book that details information about jade, the cultures it formed, and how to buy and care for jade. It is $15.00 and by far the best book on jade printed.