Jade is an ornamental stone used in jewellery as well as in cultural representations. There are two kinds of jade and it can be easy to confuse the two.
The first is called Nephrite and is basically a combination of magnesia and silica, with quantities of alumina and oxides of iron and chrome. The color can vary from a pale soapy greenish white to a clear and deep green, the most favoured of colors. The green is due to the iron content and the more iron the greener the jade will be.
The other form of jade is called Jadeitite and this is a different form of mineral called sodium- and aluminium-rich pyroxene. The gem form of the mineral is, again, a microcrystalline interlocking but crystal matrix.
The word jade is derived from the Spanish term, "piedra de ijada", or Lion Stone. Possibly due to its reputation for treating and curing various illnesses of the kidneys and loins. The word Nephrite is derived from the Latin, "Lapis Nephriticus."
Both forms of jade have been used since prehistoric times for stone carving despite the hardness of both materials. Jadeitite is around the same hardness as quartz with nephrite somewhat softer. Both are very tough however and extremely hard to carve, Nowadays diamond duct is frequently used to carve both. Because of their virtual similarity, the difference between then was not known until a French mineralogist isolated the difference.
Jade has been traditionally used since prehistoric times for axe heads, knives and clubbing weapons as well as for ornaments and jewelery.
One can find jade in a variety of colors from the milky white (In China known as "mutton fat" jade) through to the deep green and even blue and lavender-mauve or pink, although these are extremely rare. Of the two types of Jade Jadeitite is the more rare and consequently the most expensive. So when buying jade one has to establish the type of jade it is to assure one is paying the right price.
Nephrite and jadeite were used from prehistoric periods for hard stone carving. Jadeite has about the same hardness as quartz, while nephrite is somewhat softer. Both nephrite and jadeite are tough, but nephrite is tougher than jadeite. They can be delicately shaped. Thus it was not until the 19th century that a French mineralogist determined that "jade" was in fact two different materials. The trade name jadite is sometimes applied to translucent or opaque green glass.
Of all jades, the translucent emerald-green jadeite is and has been probably the most prized both today and historically.
Bright green Jadeitite from Guatemala was treasured by Mesoamerican cultures, and as "kingfisher" jade, vivid green rocks from Burma became the preferred stone of post-1800 Chinese imperial scholars and rulers. Burma (Myanmar) and Guatemala are the principal sources of modern gem Jadeitite, and Canada of modern lapidary nephrite. Nephrite jade was used mostly in pre-1800 China as well as in New Zealand, the Pacific Coast and Atlantic Coasts of North America, Neolithic Europe, and south-east Asia.
Jade has also been known by many other names, including:
British Columbian Jade
Nephrite (of Werner)
New Zealand Greenstone
New Zealand Jade
Some other minerals are sometimes sold as jade so one has to watch for these also when buying jade.
These are commonly:
Serpentine also called by other names such as: bowenite, "Korean jade," "Suzhou jade," "Styrian jade," "Olive jade", and "New jade")
Australian chrysoprase. And lastly.
"Transvaal jade" or "African jade".
So when you ask the question, what is jade, hopefully you will have a better idea than you might have had before.
Chinese jade has been around for a long time. Jade ornaments have been unearthed in the tomb of the Shang kings so it is evident jade has been mined from as early as 6000BC.
In fact during Neolithic times, the known sources of nephrite jade in China were the now exhausted deposits in the Ningshao area in the Yangtze River Delta (Lanzhou 3400 - 2250 BC) and also in an area of the Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia (Hongshan culture 4700 - 2200 BC).
Since time immemorial jade has had great significance in the Chinese Empire comparable to that of diamonds and gold in the west.
As early as 6000 BC Dushan Jade has been mined. Jade was used to create many utilitarian and ceremonial objects, ranging from indoor decorative items to jade burial suits. Jade was considered the "imperial gem".
Jade has been found in many parts of China. From the region of Khotan in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang regions to other regions such as Lantian, Shaanxi. There, white and greenish nephrite jade can be found in small quarries and as pebbles and boulders in the rivers that flow from the Kuen-Lun mountain range northward into the Takla-Makan desert area.
According to Wikipedia, "River jade collection was concentrated in the Yarkand, the White Jades (Yurungkash) and Black Jade (Karakash) Rivers. From the Kingdom of Khotan, on the southern leg of the Silk Road, yearly tribute payments consisting of the most precious white jade were made to the Chinese Imperial court and there transformed into objets d'art by skilled artisans as jade was considered more valuable than gold or silver. Jade became a favorite material for the crafting of Chinese scholars objects, such as rests for calligraphy brushes, as well as the mouthpieces of some opium pipes, due to the belief that breathing through jade would bestow longevity upon smokers who used such a pipe."
Jadeite, with its bright emerald-green, pink, lavender, orange and brown colours was also only imported from Burma to China after 1800. The vivid green variety, known as Feicui or Kingfisher (feathers) Jade, quickly replaced nephrite as the imperial variety of jade.
In the Imperial Chinese empire, jade has always been regarded with a special significance, comparable with that of gold and diamonds in the West. Chinese artisans have produced some of the finest jade sculptures and figurines ever seen in Chinese jade.
Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC) once stated that there are 11 De (virtue) in jade.
"The wise have likened jade to virtue. For them, its polish and brilliancy represent the whole of purity; its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent the sureness of intelligence; its angles, which do not cut, although they seem sharp, represent justice; the pure and prolonged sound, which it gives forth when one strikes it, represents music. Its color represents loyalty; its interior flaws, always showing themselves through the transparency, call to mind sincerity; its iridescent brightness represents heaven; its admirable substance, born of mountain and of water, represents the earth. Used alone without ornamentation it represents chastity. The price that the entire world attaches to it represents the truth. To support these comparisons, the Book of Verse says: "When I think of a wise man, his merits appear to be like jade."
Here is a list of the various periods going from the Neolithic period, around 7000 to 1600 BC and back up to the present day (in antique terms) to Xuantong of the 1909 to 1911 period.
circa 7000 - 1600 BC
circa 3500 - 2200 BC
circa 3400 - 2250 BC
circa 2300 - 1700 BC
circa 1600 - 1027 BC
7000 - 1600 BC
1027 - 771 BC
Spring and Autumn period
Warring states period
770 - 256 BC
770 - 476 BC
475 - 221 BC
Western (early) Han
Xin dynasty (Wang Mang interregnum)
206 BC - AD 220
206 BC - AD 8
AD 9 - 23
Han 25 - 220
220 - 265
220 - 265
221 - 263
222 - 280
265 - 419
265 - 317
317 - 420
304 - 439
Six Dynasties (Southern Dynasties and Sui)
Southern and Northern Dynasties
Former Song (Liu)
317 - 618
317 - 420
420 - 479
479 - 502
502 - 557
557 - 569
386 - 535
534 - 550
535 - 556
550 - 577
557 - 581
581 - 618
618 - 906
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
Antique Jade is very much early jade which can go back as far as 6000 years. The chinese have been carving jade for that long and speciments have been found in ancient china going back 5000 years. Of course jade has been carved not only in China. many other countries have a tradition of using jade for many years and one can find antique jade in many areas of the globe. But the most well know has to be the chinese dynastys and early periods and jade from these times buy and sell for many dollars.
Auction houses such as Southebys and Christies, among others, regularly feature antique jade, usually of chinese origin and almost always highly valued and priced. Antique jade can also be found at antique jade collector clubs, trade fairs and in antique shops and dealers.
One can buy books on the various antique jade ornaments and most of them are well documented and catalogued, their value known by avid antique jade collectors.
Jade is one of the most treasured gems by jewelery lovers today. In ancient times, it was said that jade could heal the digestive system. Over the years, it has evolved into a symbol of love. Ancient Chinese cultures said that the stone had the ability to attract love. Jade, according to mythology, is also protective and can create wealth. Whatever the case, antique jade is very much a part of today's jewelery marketplace.
As well as to make jewelery, Antique jade is also used to make sculptures that can be displayed in your home or office.
Jade comes in many colors and can be carved into various shapes. According to experts, jade is sometimes carved into a crouching dragon; the symbol most likely developed a half century ago, but it still remains popular today. Jade jewelery comes in a wide variety of colors, ranging from off white to pale and vivid green.
Antique jade jewelery is often beaded. Jade necklaces are often cut into cabochon stones and are strung onto fine string that surrounds the neck quite elegantly. Many jade rings are made in China and sold on websites originating in Western countries, such as England. Before approaching these sites, it is important to know the facts. Antique green jade can appear iridescent and reflect light quite well. However, high quality jade that has iridescent qualities can be quite expensive.
Antique jade jewelery can also come in colors of dark brown and red. Bright green jade is quite often placed in sterling silver to create a southwestern look. When set with a precious metal, such as gold or silver, a piece of antique jade jewelery can sell for as much as $1,000.00. Of course, finding a nice piece of jade does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. There are many small jewelery boutiques that specialize in southwestern jewelery. You can buy a beautiful jade bracelet for roughly $100.00 from some retailers.
However, the price will go up if the piece is combined with other stones, such as coral. Coral goes quite well with green jade. Finding jewelery that combines these stones can be difficult.
Many people think old jade is in fact old. However, this is far from the truth. Old jade, according to experts, is different from typical jade in the sense that it is a much deeper green. You can find custom antique jade jewelery for sale online, often in colors of white and ivory. Antique jade jewelery can have a rustic look, when different colors of of the stone are combined.
According to gem experts, you should examine stones before you buy antique jade
Here are some tips you can use when you decide you want to buy jade.
Firstly there is a lot of different types of jade such as early antique style jade from hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Mostly this is Chinese jade from one of the early dynasties and can be extremely expensive. Then you have the later jade such as carved by the Maoris in New Zealand., These can be hundreds of years old also but mostly are fairly recent carvings. Then you get the modern day jade as used in jewelery from your local jewelers.
So the first step is to know what you want before you buy. Usually a person makes that decision on the basis of having seen something in jade that caught their eye and which they found very pleasing or attractive. They found something in the jade article they felt they could appreciate. Usually it was an art form object or a piece of jewelery.
Whatever it is, the basic principles of buying jade still apply.
1. Know what you want. Lots of browsing for the types of jade you are looking for will get you a lot of examples. If you are looking for some antique style jade from a former Chinese Dynasty, for example, antique fairs, auction houses and private collections are probably the best places to look. Basic jade jewelery can be found in many specialist jewelery stores and one can, of course, surf the net for the sort of thing one is looking for.
2. The budget is the next point to look at. How much do you want to spend? If money is no object of course you can bypass this point. If money is a consideration then for the type and quality of jade you are looking for a good criteria is to spend at the top of your budget so you get the best possible for your dollar.
3. Know your seller, or dealer. Of course one would not buy from someone with no credentials. No address or phone number. Off the back of a truck so to speak. Pick the best and most reputable auction houses, antique fairs, jewelery dealers and, if you decide to check out eBay, then the best power sellers with a reputation to uphold is probably your best bet. Obviously, whom ever you buy from, you want to be sure they are fully contactable and that they have a returns policy if the jade does not match the description advertised.
4. If delivery or shipping is required and the jade is of some value, then a reliable shipper and shipping insurance is a must.
Basic common sense and doing some due diligence, especially if buying jade from the internet is concerned is the sensible thing to do.
To buy jade can be an exciting thing and seeing your treasured piece when it arrives home is well worth all the effort that has gone into buying your jade.