Jade is a gemstone that encompasses two distinct minerals: nephrite and jadeite. These minerals are valued for their remarkable green colour from delicate pale greens to deep, vibrant shades.
History and lore
Jade’s lustrous appearance and smooth texture have earned it the nickname “the stone of heaven” in many cultures.. Jade has been valued for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest known gemstones.
Revered since the Neolithic period (around 6000 BC). The Chinese considered jade to be a symbol of purity, virtue, wisdom and grace.
Jade amulets, often carved into intricate shapes, are worn as talismans to ward off evil spirits and possess protective properties, both in the spiritual and physical realms. Jade burial suits, made entirely of jade pieces, were crafted for emperors to ensure their safe passage to the afterlife.
In the Americas, civilizations like the Maya and Aztec treasured jade for its beauty and spiritual significance. Jade masks and jewellery, were often used in ceremonies and rituals. The famous Aztec calendar stone, “Piedra del Sol,” features a large jade disc at its centre.
In Mesoamerica, jade was associated with the gods and the afterlife. The Maya believed that jade was a conduit to the spiritual realm, and jade jewellery was buried with the dead to ensure safe passage to the afterlife.
Types of Jade
There are two main types of jade: nephrite and jadeite. They share the same name but differ in composition and appearance.
Nephrite is the more common of the two and is known for its creamy, spinach-green colour. It has been found in China, New Zealand, and Russia. Nephrite is renowned for its toughness and for centuries used for tools and sculptures.
Jadeite is the rarer and more valuable type of jade. It comes in a wider range of colours, from vibrant emerald green to lavender and even fiery orange. The most prized jadeite is known as “imperial jade,” characterized by its intense green colour. Myanmar (formerly Burma) is the primary source of high-quality jadeite.