Though we are most familiar with green jade, this beautiful and very hard gem exists in various tones of yellow, orange, white, gray, black and violet also and connoisseurs determine its value based on the quality and intensity of its color.
Jade was known in 3000 B.C. China as “the royal gem.” It was used in the fabrication of fine objects with deep cultural and religious significance and it was commonly included with the burial furnishings of members of the imperial family.
The word Jade is somewhat of a generic term. It refers to two distinct gems, one known as nephrite and the other as jadeite. Both present blemishes, veins and streaks that are regarded as characteristics of their beauty rather than flaws.
Though jade is commonly associated with China, its name derives from a Spanish phrase, “piedra de ijada,” meaning “loin stone.” Records indicate that this name was originally used not in Spain, but by Spaniards who had immigrated to the Americas and through their contact with the native people who recognized the gem as an effective remedy for ailments of the kidneys.
In New Zealand, where jade can be found as well, the Maoris used it in spiritual objects and also in weapons due to its unique toughness.
In truth, jade has probably been known to man for over 7000 years. In prehistoric times, it was an ideal material for hunting weapons and cutting tools. Today, while tribal cultures continue to use jade in their traditional ways, its significance as an ornamental gem is nearly equivalent to that of diamonds or gold. Jade is also associated with justice, modesty, compassion, wisdom and courage.
To be continued…