The word ‘jade’ actually denotes more than three stones, however lets focus on the greens to start with, Jadeite Nephrite and Xiuyan. Nephrite and Jadeite are more accepted as genuine jade. Jadeite, however, is the rarer and more valuable of the two and is what is found in Guatemala. Nephrite is mostly sourced from countries like China and Russia.
The name “nephrite’ is from greek ‘nephros’, which means ‘kidney’ with reference to its benefits in treating kidney diseases. In Chinese culture, nephrite jade is considered the “Stone of Heaven”. The jade egg used in Taoist practice since ancient time was nephrite. Nephrite is dense and pure and has tightly packed interwoven fibrous structure that makes it very tough, strong and dense preventing any harmful bacteria from diffusing inside. Nephrite is also heavy and hard though not as heavy as jadeite stone. Nephrite polish finishes softer, but the stone itself is tougher and less prone to shattering. Both nephrite and jadeite are metamorphic rocks commonly marked with veins or imperfections, although it is often these imperfections that will make a particular piece special and in some cases more valuable. In general as it is with most stones, a fine piece of jade is distinguished by even clarity of color, translucence, and quality of workmanship. Nephrite is rich in tremolite, and it’s mineral content is:
Mineral Formula: Ca2Mg5(OH)2(Si4011)2
Mohs Hardness: 6.0 – 7.0
Specific density: 2.8 – 3.03
Reflection index: 1.61 – 1.63
Structure: Monoclinic; intergrown fine fibrous aggregate.
The nephrite jade that we sell is called Hetian Jade, also known as Hotan or Hetian Yu and is known in China to be the “King Of Jade”, topping all other jades in China even in the whole world. Please be wary of alarmists who make sweeping claims that all other jades that other sellers sell are fake or marble despite it being called different names the majority of nephrite you will find on the market is actually Hetian nephrite and we have done extensive research and testing to make sure that our eggs are actually what they claim to be. The eggs have also been certified by a professional gemologist. There are varying grades of jade, and hetian jade comes in other colours too, we only stock the dark green nephrite. Sometimes you will find a food grade waxy substance on your eggs when purchased, this is to protect the eggs during the drilling process for the hole, it will come off when you clean them using warm water and vinegar and is not an imperfection.
Now lets move onto Jadeite which is our favourite jade of all and in our opinion the most beautiful and the highest quality we sell. The most coveted jadeite—imperial jade—has a pure green tone striking enough for the ancient emperors of both China and Mexico to place its value above gold. This regal color has only been found in the jadeite deposits of Guatemala, Russia and Burma (now Myanmar), and today can fetch a price to easily rival diamonds. Jadeite is rich in pyroxene. Customarily, green jade (both jadeite and nephrite) has been valued over other colors, but growing interest in less-traditional tints such as blue jadeite (also called Olmec blue), violet jade also known as lilac jade and ice jade has sparked an off-color jade market. English green with sea green speckles (also known as mottled green) and apple green with forest green speckles are our most popular sellers. Interestingly, translucent ice jade can arguably be regarded as the purest jade, because it is the imperfections in the chemical make-up of the stone that cause the colors. Jadeite polishes to an almost mirror like finish and we as a company agree that they are out of all the jades the most beautiful. Our jadeite is mined in Guatemala and crafted by local artisans.
Jadeite is accepted as the more valuable of the three jades.
The Elemental Stone
As far as we know, the first humans to use jadeite were the Swiss in roughly 4,000 B.C. Their stilt-houses high in the alpine lakes are thought to have been at least partly built with tools shaped from nephrite and jadeite found in river beds alongside their villages. Their jade axes, hammers, clubs and scrapers were among the first known items of nephrite and jadeite to be fashion by man; the stone’s incredible hardness made it ideal for tools and weapons. At about the same time, the humble tribes that were to become the great empires of Egypt and China were beginning to fashion tools and figurines from local nephrite. Indeed, jade was used all over the world, independently mastered by as many cultures as there were jadeite and nephrite deposits found. Jadeite, even through the Iron and Bronze Ages, proved as useful if not more useful than most metal implements. Not until modern times, with the mastering of metal alloys, was jadeite surpassed as a material for tools.
In the West, it was the Olmecs of Mesoamerica who were the first to reveal true art within the shape and smoothness of the stone (on the other side of the world, the Chinese have been carving nephrite for at least 7000 years). By the year 2,000 B.C. the Olmecs were already master carvers of jadeite—their exceptional work is still being examined, copied and mimicked to this day. They clearly set the bench-mark for artistry in jadeite, and their carving traditions were passed down for millennia, first to the Aztecs and then to the Maya culture. In fact, Olmec masks, celts, jewelry and other jadeite figures were collected as antiques by these later Mesoamerican cultures—much like their contemporaries on the other side of the world, who treasured surviving artifacts from the collapse of Rome.
In whatever form, jade, mined from the Motagua river valley in Guatemala, was the most valuable material in Mesoamerica, and was used for a variety of things both sacred and profane. Often shaped into statues and jewelry for the elite, the finest jadeite would be used to make powerful amulets for sacred rites or burials, while common jade beads were used as a form of currency.
Royal burial masks in many Mesoamerican cultures are made of fine jade, the most famous being that of the Maya King Pakal from Palenque in Southern Mexico.
Despite centuries of European contact with the Chinese and their greatly-honored nephrite, jade (specifically jadeite) was first introduced to the Europeans through the Conquistadors in the 16thcentury. Cortés begrudgingly received the finest imperial jadeite beads the Aztecs had to offer, disappointed in any tribute that was not gold. For the Aztecs, jade was a sacred stone that guided their leaders and had healing properties—It was reputed to heal ailments of the loin area, especially the kidneys. In fact, our word ‘jade’ comes from the Spanish ‘piedra de ijada’, or loin-stone.
When the Spanish conquest destroyed most of the Maya and Aztec cultures, the artistry of the American jadeite masters was forgotten, along with the location of the great jadeite mines. It was only in 1987 when the source of the Mesoamerican jadeite was finally rediscovered in Guatemala. Thus began the reassertion of American jadeite that continues to grow today.
Not to be ignored in this modern era are the Chinese, whose masterwork in nephrite since before 5,000 B.C. easily translated to Burmese jadeite when it was introduced to them in the 19th century. Today, two hundred years later, they are the current jadeite masters. Their carvings and jewelry, which reflect a grand and ancient culture, are revered and admired throughout the world. Additionally, the Chinese are the largest consumers of jadeite in today’s market, and claim a large portion of the highest quality jadeite found worldwide.
Humanity’s relationship with jade has lasted thousands of years, and perhaps for this reason it is seen as such an elemental stone. The deep green color has been associated with the ancient cult of the serpent, and has represented corn, water and life to the Olmecs since the beginning of their history. Beyond its physical characteristics, jade has a strong energy that has been harnessed for a variety of things. For ancient Mesoamerican cultures, jade was used as a stone of magic and power, which was why much of its use was restricted to priests and kings. For instance, placed under the head while sleeping, jade was believed to promote lucid dreaming and the power to use dreams as a means to create and change waking reality. They also attributed jade with bringing good fortune and slowing the process of aging. In gemstone therapy the serene green stone brings a balancing and harmonizing effect, helping release negative thoughts and realize calmness and peace. Emerald jade, or imperial jade, is especially helpful in repairing or fortifying relationships.F
Xiuyan jade is the most popular seller at it is lower in value and is tough wearing, it is rich in serpentine with it’s mineral content as follows: Mg0 42.1%, SiO 43.8% H20 13.1%, Ca0 0.13%. The eggs polish to a smooth finish and are hard to scratch or damage, they are a beautiful celery translucent green colour. Some eggs will have natural speckles and shades of milky green. The eggs and are made by the human hand using industry standards without using chemicals or dyes for colouring. We have been using the Xiuyan jade eggs and have tried and tested them and absolutely love them. Please consider this when you see other sellers screaming to the rooftops that Xiuyan jade is ‘fake’ or marble. This is a business move to try and sabotage the Xiuyan market and dominate with their own branding tactics – it’s scaremongering. They are 100% safe to use and will last a lifetime.
There is also an abundance of the Xiuyan jade as nephrite and jadeite are rare and are a more affordable option. We as a company agree that the Xiuyan jade is beautiful in appearance, a light transluscent green that is hard to scratch and a more affordable set. The healing qualities of Xiuyan is said to be beneficial for kidney function, hormone balance, and a tension reliever. Our Xiuyan eggs are also certified.