Jade is an opaque mineral of green color, which is chemically a silicate of magnesia and lime. The ancients knew these crystals for centuries. People used them for personal ornaments, art objects, interior decoration, and even as weapons. Under the term, “Jade” we 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 gems. However, this name also has the Spanish trail. It’s derived from “piedra de hijada” meaning “stone of lions.” The Spaniard named Monardas gave this name to the specimens from Mexico or Peru, in 1565.
The name “Nephrite” [lapis nephriticus] 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 assertion that it that can serve as a remedy against kidney diseases.
The Aztecs called this gemstone “chakhihuitl.” They applied this name to all the stones of green color, which probably were: Jade, Emerald, and Turquoise. There is an opinion that all the gems that the ancients called “Emerald” were indeed nothing but Jade.
Jadeite first found in the vicinity of Mogaung, the region in modern Myanmar. The story says that thousands of locals worked to the mine located near the Chindwin River, from whence, the best specimens of Jade have supplied to China through the passing caravans. Chinese people highly esteemed Jadeite, especially those stones that possessed milk-white color.
Nephrite, in turn, has been discovered in Turkestan, where the big plate made of Nephrite covered the tomb of Tamerlane. The plate also had the inscription that contained the genealogical tree of the Khan. By the way, exactly this plate helped to historians to detect an accurate date of the ruler’s death. Muslims call this plate “Sistap” or “Koche.” That’s why there is a superstition in the Middle East, which endow the Nephrite with supernatural medicinal and magical power.
In the Oriental countries, the locals used Jade to produce the handles for the swords and axes. This gemstone was also in use to create various cups, vases and other articles. The locals of New Zealand used Jade to decorate their arms as well as for personal adornment. They also applied this gem in pendants and chainlets.
There is one mystery concerning Jade. The locals of the Lesser Antilles worn Jade mascots cut in shape of Cyrus Cylinders. However, neither in Mexico nor Central America, there were not any deposits of Jade. Many scientists endeavored to unravel this mystery. Nevertheless, all the attempts were unsuccessful. Eventually, they concluded, that these cylinders made of Jade got into the Caribbean region in the result of migration.
There is also the evidence 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, in fact, there are no 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.
Physical and Chemical Properties
Nephrite is a soft gemstone. Its hardness equals just 6,5/10, according to the Mohs Scale. It is usually green, apple-green, leek-green, but rarely has a blue color. 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 can resist acid.
Thanks to Irenka Kudlicki for Jade Leather Bracelet Image.