Jade is an opaque mineral of green color, which is chemically a silicate of magnesia and lime, was known to the ancients for ages. It was used for personal ornaments, art objects, interior decoration and even as weapons. Under the term “Jade” is often mean such two gemstones as Nephrite (amphibole) and Jadeite (pyroxene).
The name “Jade,” known to us, indeed derived from the Chinese word “Yu” or “Yu-Shih,” that means “Yu stone.” By the way, the Chinese couldn’t define a difference between both these stones. However, this name has also the Spanish trail, being derived from “piedra de hijada,” that means “stone of lions.” This name was given by the Spaniard by name Monardas to the specimens, that have been delivered from Mexico or Peru, in 1565.
The name “Nephrite” [lapis nephriticus] is derived from the Greek word meaning a kidney. This name was given to this gemstone by Clutius in 1627 and later has transformed to “Nephrite.” Thus, this gem got its name, thanks to the ancient belief, that it can serve as a remedy against kidney diseases.
The Aztecs called this gemstone “chakhihuitl;” they called this name all the stones of green color, which probably were: Jade, Emerald, and Turquoise. Thus, there is an opinion, confirming that all the gems, that the ancients have called “Emerald” were indeed nothing but Jade.
Jadeite has been first discovered in the vicinity of Mogaung, — the region in modern Myanmar. The story says, that thousands of locals were employed in developing the mine, located near the Chindwin River, from whence, the best specimens of Jade have supplied to China through the passing caravans. Jadeite was highly esteemed in China, especially those stones, that possessed milk-white color.
Nephrite, in turn, has been discovered in Turkestan, where the big plate, made of Nephrite has covered the tomb of Tamerlane. There also was the inscription, engraved on the plate, illustrating the genealogical tree of the Khan. By the way, exactly this plate helps to historians to detect an accurate date of the ruler’s death. Muslims call this plate “Sistap” or “Koche.” That’s why there has appeared a superstition in the Middle East, which endow the Nephrite with supernatural medicinal and magical power.
Jade was used in Oriental countries to produce the handles for the swords and axes. This gemstone also has been used to produce various cups, vases and other articles. The locals of New Zealand were used Jade not only to decorate the arms, but also for personal adornment, using this gem in pendants and chainlets.
Mystery associated with Jade
There is one mystery concerning Jade. It is well known that the locals of the Lesser Antilles worn Jade mascots, cut in shape of Cyrus Cylinders, however, neither in Mexico nor in Central America there were not any Jade mines. Many scientists endeavored to unravel this mystery, nevertheless all the attempts were unsuccessful. Eventually, they concluded, that these cylinders made of Jade were brought into the Caribbean region in the result of migration.
There are also the evidences, that plenty of axe-heads along with the handles of the swords made of Jade have been found in Switzerland, left by the Celts, however, actually, there are no known Jade mines in entire Europe, but there are the Jade mines in abundance in Asia Minor in turn. This fact confirms a hypothesis, that the dwellers of Western Europe came to this spot from the East.
Shortly about Physical and Chemical Properties of Jade
Nephrite is not really hard gemstone, it possesses the hardness equal just 6,5/10, according to the Mohs scale. It is usually green, apple-green, leek-green, rarely possesses blue and grey colors. Jadeite, in turn, possesses the hardness of 6,5-7/10 and is distinct in color, specific gravity and semi-translucency from its “brother.” Jade is not not exposed to acid.
Thanks to Irenka Kudlicki for Jade Leather Bracelet Image.