Jade is a term the encompasses two different kinds of metamorphic rocks; jadeite and nephrite. Both gemstones are comprised of tiny mineral crystals interlocking to create an incredibly durable material that is prized both as adornment and for tools.
Jadeite comes in a wide variety of colors and has a much more uniform body color than its counterpart. Nephrite tends to have a far more mottled appearance and is limited to greens, yellows, browns, grays, black, and white.
This highly sought after stone is mined globally primarily from New Zealand, Asia, and South America.
Even during the mining process jade is preciously handled. Entire boulders will be removed from a site with a "window" of jade cleaned for inspection. Based on this small area buyers will evaluate color and quality of the potential hiding within the rock and purchase with hopes of a high reward.
Jade Imbued Culture
Jade is strongly associated with Chinese culture but the first jade artifacts were fashioned in Central America by ancient Aztecs and Mayans. Jade was integral to their societies for tools, spiritual jewelry, and as medicine. The term for jade is derived from the saying 'piedra de ijada' coined by early Spanish explorers. It's meaning, "stone of the pain in the side", was befitting as conquistadors observed the locals holding the gem to their sides with the belief it would cure ailment.
Jade was just as captivating on the other side of the world where the Chinese had taken to intricately carving the stone to symbolize complex philosophy. An important circular shaped amulet called "bi" was developed to symbolize heaven and is also interpreted as an eternity motif.
Even today jade continues to influence the Chinese market and was utilized during the Beijing Olympics. Each bronze, silver, and gold medal was backed by carved jade of a different color, the most revered being white jade for the gold medalist. Often white jade is older than green jade and is a testament to its endurance: a perfect gift for an athlete.
Due to its microcystalline makeup, jade is one of the toughest materials available for jewelry. Its extreme durability allows for it to be meticulously carved that can display paper thin details. This gemstone is often fashioned as carved beads or will be polished smooth into bangles and bi.
Jade is the traditional gift for the 12th wedding anniversary.
Jade is not recommended for ultrasonic cleaners and should be cleaned with a soft bristled brush and warm soapy water. Jade must be wiped dry upon washing to preserve its luster. Be sure to wrap in a soft cloth when storing to prevent your jade from being scratched by harder gemstones.