|Name Origin:||Derived from the Spanish term piedra de ijada or "loin stone", from its reputed property of curing ailments of the loins and kidneys.|
|Colour:||Mainly green or ‘mutton fat’ cream|
|Family:||Jadeite or Nephrite – both metamorphic rocks|
|Hardness:||6 to 7 out of 10 on the Mohs Scale|
|Found in:||China, Burma, Guatemala, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand|
THE GREEN DRAGON
The term ‘jade’ does not refer to just one mineral compound - rather a family all exhibiting similar traits including lustre and translucency. The main two are jadeite and nephrite, with the latter being softer and less rare. And while jade’s unique properties have found an eager market around the world, there is one place where jade is simply revered above all others: China.
To say that jade features highly in Chinese art, culture and history would be a dramatic understatement. For 9000 years, it has been an integral part of China, used as both fine objects and a part of the burial traditions in centuries past. It is known as ‘The Stone of Heaven’ for its linking properties to this world and the spiritual one. Coupled with its high lustre and translucency, jade is a gemstone that is highly prized. A Chinese proverb attributes greater attachment to jade than to gold – gold has value, but jade is invaluable.
In New Zealand, the Maori people have been carving the nephrite ‘greenstone’ or ‘pounamu’ since before explorers set foot ashore. Back in China, the gem is said to be filled with magical properties, and is worn to protect the wearer from bad luck.
Representing beauty, grace and purity, Jade is hard and brittle, making the art of intricate carving a true sight to behold. No other culture can rival China for the richness and intricacy of the jade rings, bracelets, beads and pendants found there. (Most Chinese families will have at least one piece of jade).
Jade may be enhanced’ (or stabilised). There are four types of jade with three main methods of enhancement, sometimes referred to as the ABC Treatment System:
- Type A jadeite (also known as natural jade) has not been treated in any way (except surface waxing).
- Type B treatment involves exposing a promising but stained piece of jadeite to chemical bleaches and/or acids and impregnating it with a clear polymer resin to improve transparency and colour.
- Type C jade has been artificially stained or dyed. This can be unpredictable, and translucency is lost.
- Type D jade is a composite stone consisting of a jade top with a plastic backing.
Type A Jade is the most valuable type of Jade.
First State Auctions only auctions Type A or Type B Jade.
In the Han dynasty, emperors were buried in jade gowns and jade cicadas were placed on dead kings' tongues to prevent decomposition and safeguard chi or energy.