Jade is the gemstone associated with the birthstone month of March.
Jade is associated with the Zodiac sign of Virgo.
The term Jade actually refers to two distinct types of stones which closely resemble one another, Jadeite and Nephrite. Scientists discovered that although both stones contained Silica in their chemical composition, Jadeite also contains Aluminum and Nephrite additionally contains Magnesium. Jadeite is a Sodium Aluminum Silicate, and Nephrite is a Calcium Magnesium Iron Silicate.
History & Lore:
Jade is derived from the Spanish word 'piedra de ijada', meaning “loin stone”. The Amerindians discovered that Jade could be used as a remedy for kidney ailments, hence the name loin stone. Because of the beneficial effect it had on kidneys, it was also associated with the name 'lapis nephriticus', which would later form the name Nephrite. Nephrite is also thought to be derived from the Greek word 'nephros', meaning “kidney”.
Jade has been treasured for over 5000 years in China as the royal gemstone, where it is known as 'yu', or 'zhen yu', meaning “genuine Jade”. Jade is as significant in China as Gold and Diamonds have been in the west. Jade was not only used for the fine objects and cult figures, but was also often in the tombs of important members of the Imperial family. One tomb contained an entire suit made of Jade, assuring the occupant physical immortality. In addition to this, Jade was associated with the five cardinal virtues: compassion, modesty, courage, justice, and wisdom.
In Central America, the Mayans, Aztecs, and Olmec's also treasured and honored Jade higher than Gold, often creating symbolic carvings and masks out of it.
Neolithic Europeans used Jade extensively for tools and weapons, most likely because of its toughness that makes it ideal for such purposes.
Jade is believed to stimulate creativity and mental agility whilst also encouraging practicality, wisdom, love,and tolerance. It is also believed to have a balancing and harmonizing effect, banishing negative thoughts and rejuvenating the wearer during times of stress. In addition to this, Jade is also believed to increase body strength and longevity.
Physically, Jade has long been associated with the kidneys and is still a remedy amongst healers of Nephritic Colic. Jade is also believed to help protect and aid the heart, larynx, liver, spleen ,thymus, immune system, and nervous system.
The correct geological conditions needed to produce Jadeite and Nephrite are rare, therefore the stones are rare and scattered geographically. Jadeite is the rarest of the two and naturally more valuable.
Myanmar sources the highest quality of Jadeite, particularly a form of Jade known as Imperial Jade which is the most desirable and valuable variety. Other notable deposits of Jadeite can be found in in Guatemala, Italy, Russia, and the United States.
British Columbia, Canada contains the largest deposits of Nephrite in the world. This deposit is the source for source the hardest and finest grade of Nephrite known. Other notable Nephrite deposits can be found in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United States, and Zimbabwe.
Jade is rated at 6.5 to 7 on Moh's Scale of Hardness and is an extremely tough gemstone. Pure Jade is actually white, with impurities responsible for the green, red, yellow, pink, violet, orange, black, and brown colors. Nephrite is mainly found with a mid to dark green color but can also be found in hues of white, yellow, or red. Jadeite, the rarer and more valuable variety of Jade, is usually more vivid in color and has much finer translucency than Nephrite. It displays hues of green, white, pink, red, black, brown and violet, with the most highly-prized variety being the emerald green colored Imperial Jade, native to Myanmar.
Although the intensity of the color is the most important factor when determining Jade's value, special attention should also be paid to the the stones transparency. While Jade is never fully transparent, the higher level of transparency it exhibits, the higher the value. In addition to this, the vivacity, texture, and clarity must also be taken into account.
When purchasing Jade, it is recommended that you always purchase from a reputable dealer or jeweler. This is due to poor quality Jade on the market today that has been treated or artificially colored. With that being said, whether purchasing Jade as a collectible item or as a piece of jewelry, its toughness, history, and enchanting colors make Jade a memorable gemstone.
Because of its smooth even texture, Jade has been a preferred material for ornamental carvings for thousands of years. With regards to jewelry, because it does not exhibit any considerable level of transparency but instead a fine luster, Jade is best suited and most commonly fashioned into cabochons.
Low quality Jade is occasionally dyed to enhance its color.
Care & Cleaning:
Jade is best cleaned using warm soapy water and a soft brush. As with most gemstones, Jade should be kept away from exposure to excessive heat and household chemicals that could damage the stone. In addition to this, steamers and ultrasonic cleaners should be avoided. Always store your Jade jewelry in a fabric-lined box away from other jewelry items in order to avoid scratching.