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Jade Jewelry

What is Jade ?

In 1863, it was discovered that what was known as jade was actually two similar yet different minerals- jadeite and nephrite. Chemically, jadeite is sodium aluminum silicate whereas nephrite is a calcium magnesium iron silicate.

Nephrite is the variety seen throughout China. Despite the prolific use of it in ancient China, jadeite is considered the true jade. The reason for this is because it has more brilliant green hues.

Both varieties have been known for thousands of years. The most valuable is the transparent emerald green color from Myanmar. This is known as the Imperial Jade. There is a wide range of greens and some stones even exhibit a marbled green and white look. Pink, black, purple and yellow also occur though they are very rare. The presence of trace particles such as chromium determines what color the stone exhibits.

Where does Jade come from?

When you think of Jade, you probably think of China and carved elephants and lions. Today however, the most desirable jadeite variety are mined in Myanmar and more recently discovered in Central America. The nephrite variety is found throughout North and South America, Australia and Taiwan.

Jade History and Healing

Jade has a very long history. It has been a status symbol in the Chinese culture for thousands of years because it is so treasured. The symbol for the Chinese word illustrates how precious it is to their culture- it stands for the heavens, the whole of the earth and humankind. So, in effect, the Chinese character for Jade encompasses all of life. Emperors insisted on being buried with it because it was believed to preserve the body. One emperor had nearly 2,500 pieces strung together with gold thread to make a suit to protect his deceased body from decay.

The ancient tribes of Central America also revered the lustrous green stone. They also believed, like the Chinese, in its healing properties. No matter what mine or where the jade came from, the ancients all agreed on one thing- wearing jade jewelry was good for the kidneys. In fact, the Spanish conquerors of Central America called it "piedra de hijada" which means "stone of the loins." There is the correlation of the stone and its ability to ward off kidney ailments. Once the stone was taken to Europe, the French called it "jade" and then the "e" was eventually dropped.

Worn as an amulet, it was also believed that a jade pendant protects a traveler from evil. Confucius wrote about the virtuous jade stone and it is used as an element in the practice of Feng Shui as it is considered a physical link to the heavens. The Chinese also believed that if they ground up the stone and ate it, it would cure whatever ailments they had. The ancient Egyptians believed it brought about balance and inner peace.

Whether any of these supposed healing properties works, the best way to find out is to wear your jade jewelry close the skin so the body can absorb the benefits. Even if it doesn't work, this stone is beautiful and should be worn anyway.

How Jade stones are cut

Typically you can find Jade rings , bracelets, pendants and even earrings. To bring out the most vibrant color, a cabochon cut is the best presentation. Thin flat pieces and flat rounded stones are often used in pendants and bracelets. Because carving is so easy with the stone, you can also find more elaborate pieces with filigree cut-outs and even cylindrical shapes.

Special days for a special Jade stone

Jade is not an official birthstone according to the 1912 American National Association of Jewelers, but it is the mystical birthstone for March. Under the Zodiac, it is the birthstone for people born under the sun sign Virgo. Another day it is proper to give jade earrings as a gift is for a 12th wedding anniversary. It is the secondary gemstone used to commemorate the 30th and 35th anniversaries as well.

How to care for your Jade jewelry

Jade Because the stones are commonly treated with a resin, wax or dye to bring out the best color, do not soak or use harsh cleaners. A soft cloth should be sufficient, but if you need to, use gentle soaps when you wipe down your pieces.

Jade jewelry is truly unique and is an exotic accessory for any occasion. Wear it close to your skin because wear not only enhances the color, but it is also the way to get the most benefit from its mystical healing properties.