The Meaning and History Behind Natural Jade
Many cultures in the world have prized jade for it's appearance, properties and it's believed spiritual benefits. Many do not know much more about it than that it's beautiful green color.
#1: The Jade Origin and History.
"Perhaps no other gemstone has the same aura of mystery as Burmese jadeite." - Richard W. Hughes. and fellow authors said in their research article: "BURMESE JADE: THE INSCRUTABLE GEM", published by the GIA.
And that's exactly right, the stone jade (Nephrite and Jadeite) has been prized by many in Asia and part of Asian culture for centuries. The use has been dated back thousands of years, including when jade was used for thing such as tools, arrowheads or even ornamental pieces for it's toughness, vibrant color, and hardness among other things. And nowadays, the precious gem is used for fine jewelry making, carvings and even a sound investment option.
But the use and origin of the gem was foreign to westerners.
"In 1863, French mineralogist Alexis Damour analyzed bright green jades from then-Burma. When he found these samples to be different from what was called Chinese jade (usually amphibole jade, or nephrite), he named the mineral jadeite (Damour, 1863)." (Hughes, 2000).
While in Chinese, the precious gem is called Yu (玉). "To the Chinese, jade was traditionally defined by its “virtues,” namely a compact, fine texture, tremendous toughness and high hardness, smooth and glossy luster, along with high translucency and the ability to take a high polish (Wang, 1994)." (Hughes, 2000). Those qualities are why the stone was one time used for the imperial seal of China.
Nephrite Jade Vs. Jadeite
There are two main types of jade - jadeite and nephrite. The differences can be boiled down to the color, hardness, and the value, among other things.
Jadeite is know as hard jade because it's hardness rating on the Moahs hardness scale is a 6.5-7. With diamonds, the hardest stone, being 10.
Nephrite jade is known as soft jade, because it's hardness rating on the Moahs hardness scale is a 6-6.5. It's just a little bit less than it's older sister but not by much. Note that both of the stones bare very good toughness. Meaning that it is more prone to chipping when struck compared to a softer stone.
The color variety is different also. Jadeite's color ranges from all shade of green, to lavender, to yellow, to black, and all the way to transcluent. Which is the purest form of jadeite. And the highest quality jadeite, comes from Burma. Which is where all of our jadeite on www.baikalla.com comes from! But also, the jadeite from burma are the ones that are faked the most because of the high value it can be.
The Meaning of Jade: Symbols of prosperity, good luck and fortune.
Accroding to the GIA, "The first jadeite reached China from Burma (now known as Myanmar) in the late 1700s, and late eighteenth and early nineteenth century carvers created masterpieces that are still unsurpassed in concept, design, and technical execution."
These pieces and skills are passed down from generations to generations. As did the culture and beliefs that came along with it. Some of the more common beliefs are that it's a gem of safety. It's a common practice to purchase jade bangles for the elders (parents, grand parents) to wish them good health and safety.
Some example of motifs that you may see jade being design into is:
-A circle (In Chinese: 平安扣, Literally translates to peace button.) To wish safety and prosperity on to the wearer.
-The Dragon (龙): Worn as a symbol of strength, courage, power, good luck, longevity, and protection
-The Buddha (佛): It helps the wearer to stay connected with the positive vibes of nature and divine by attracting all positive energies towards the core of his heart and mind.
-The GuanYin (观音): Guanyin is the embodiment of charity and redemption in China for thousands of years, and is synonymous with truth, goodness and beauty.
-The Bamboo: The bamboo bares the symbol of longevity, prosperity, and wealth. Becuase how it grows abundantly, and thrives in many many environments.
-The Money Bag: Literally means the accumulation of wealth and the longevity of keeping the wealth also.
You and also read more about jade here from the GIA
The value of Jade:
Jade's quality can be categorized in to a 4 categories.
For color, generally the more color the piece have, the more expensive they are. For example, jade bangles can range any where from below a couple hundred dollars for some near white/ off white color bangles. All the way to the intense vibrant green everyone thinks about for hundreds of thousand of dollars. With one of the most expensive bangles sold at Sotheby's auction house. (Here's an example)
This is referring to the corseness of the stone that seen in jade. "Jadeite’s texture can be fine, medium, or coarse, depending on variations in crystal size and hardness. These texture categories are sometimes called, respectively, old mine, relatively old mine, and new mine." (GIA, 2).
And in general. The less corse the jade, the more rare and valuable they are.
Jadeite’s transparency ranges from completely opaque to semitransparent. And the more transparent they are the more rare and valuable they are. The highest quality jadeite are the ones that are semi translucent. Adding to the charm of the vibrant green or lavender if any color. Along with that if the stone has no cloudy spots that can obstruct the transparency. That's even better. Here are some more information.
The cut is referring to how well the jade is carved. For example a budda. You want to see that the buddha looks very lively, and seems happy. No crooked eyebrows or smiles. The better quality the raw material, it usually will end up in the hand of a very skilled carver to be made into a piece that will add to the value of the gem. Though some bad quality carvings can diminish the value if the problem is major.