Jade
 
Jade has a discreetly 'greasy' luster which comes in many green hues, but also in shades of white, grey, black, yellow, orange and delicate violet tones.   As early as 3000 B.C., Jade was known in China as 'yu', the 'royal gem'.   In the long history of Chinese art and culture, Jade has had a special significance, comparable with gold and Diamonds in the Western World.   Used not only for the finest objects and idols, Jade was in the grave furnishings for high-ranking members of the Imperial family.   This gem is still regarded as a symbol of all that is good, beautiful and precious.
 
The Mayas, Aztecs and Olmecs of Central America also honored and esteemed Jade more highly than gold.   New Zealand's Maoris began carving weapons, tools and idols from native Jade in early recorded history, a tradition which has continued to the present day.   In ancient Egypt, Jade was admired as the stone of love, inner peace, harmony and balance.   Even though Jade has been regarded as a lucky or protective stone, yet it has had nowhere near the significance in other cultures as in Asia.  Presumably, this is due to the fact that people knew relatively little about this fascinating gem.
 
 
What is Jade?
 
Jade, called 'yu' in China, is a generic term for two different gems, Nephrite and Jadeite.  The name is derived from the Spanish 'piedra de ijada', or loin-stone, Jade having been recognized by the American Indians as a remedy for kidney ailments.   Because of its beneficial effect on the kidneys, the stone was also known as 'lapis nephriticus' which is where the term 'Nephrite' came from.
 
Jadeite and Nephrite are both regarded in China as 'zhen yu' which translates to 'Genuine Jade'.   It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that mineralogists and gemologists started to differentiate between them.   They are similar to each other in appearance, hardness and the properties they exhibit when being processed.   Both are tough, since they consist of dense, close-grained, matted aggregates, but differ from one another in their chemical composition and colors.   Nephrite colors range from mid to dark green or grey-green, but can also be white, yellowish or reddish.   Jadedite is more rare, tougher and  displays hues which include green, white or pink, and reds, blacks, browns and violets.   Both distribute color in different ways.  Only in the very finest Jade is the color evenly distributed.   Both have veins, blemishes and streaks running through them, though these are not always regarded as flaws.    Some of these patterns are considered particularly valuable.
 
Jadeite, being more rare, is regarded as more precious.   Nephrite deposits have been found in China, New Zealand, Russia, Guatemala and the Swiss Alps.   Dark green Jade, called Canada Jade, is found in Alaska and Western Canada.   Jadeite is found in China, Russia and Guatemala, but the best stones come from Burma, or Myanmar.   At the annual 'Gems, Jade and Pearls Emporium', blocks of Jade in all sizes are auctioned.   When purchasing the raw materials, the dealers need to be fairly lucky, since the nodules, blocks and fragments are sold either whole or after having been cut into slices, and there is only a very small viewing window, the result of some initial grinding.  So the buyer cannot see exactly what is hidden on the inside: valuable green Jade, or an almost worthless, speckled or streaky material.   It is not until the cutting process begins that the real quality is revealed.
 
In the Jade-cutting centers of Canton, Beijing and Hong Kong, the raw material is processed with carborundum and Diamond powder.    Since Jade is generally not transparent, but has a fine lustre, the cabochon is the form best suited to it.   Thin slivers, which can be worn as pendants, and jade bracelets are popular, too.   Round, cylindrical and flat shapes can be combined to make attractive necklaces.   Traditionally, Jade is processed into slender figures, filigree images or thin-walled vessels.   This is sometimes erroneously referred to as Jade carving.   Unwanted material is, in fact, removed during the cutting process, and the stone is subsequently polished.   Polished Nephrite's surface has a resinous luster, while the polished Jadeite surface seems to shine almost like that of a mirror.
 
 
What Distinguishes Good Jade?
 
In Asia Jade it is collected as an antique.   Besides the quality of the gem and its processing, religion and faith also play an important role in its value.   People in the West prefer to collect Jade in the form of snuff-boxes, cigarette holders, small bowls or rings.    Since each collector has his own preferences regarding color, style and shape, getting definite advice on the purchase of Jade is difficult.
 
In recent years, creative jewelry and gemstone producers have created some wonderful designs, sprucing up the image of Jade, which carried a rather traditional character for many years.
 
In general terms, the value of Jade is determined according to its color and the intensity of that color, vivacity, texture, clarity and transparency. Likings for particular colors vary considerably from region to region and culture to culture.   In green Jade alone the colors are differentiated between seven main qualities, from the intense, even green of Imperial Jade, apple green and spinach green, all the way to the lighter and more heavily speckled shades of green.   These special nuances often overlap and can hardly be recognized by the untrained eye.   In the United States and Europe, Emerald green, spinach green and apple green are regarded as particularly valuable.   Asian countries highly esteem pure white or fine yellow with a delicate pink undertone.   The world of jewelry has popularized the fine violet nuances of lavender Jade.   It is however the rare, Emerald green of Imperial Jade, a color of incredible depth, which is the most expensive.    Since poor quality Jade is offered along side good and natural Jade, it is recommended you purchase Jade only from reputable dealers and jewelers.   Poor-quality products or stones are often colored or otherwise treated to hide its imperfections.
 
 
 
 
 
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