Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jade - A Virtuous Gem

Many cultures have a gemstone that they consider to be most precious and, in the case of the Chinese, even heavenly. Jade is more valuable than gold in the Chinese culture and it is evident in how they use it in their daily lives. One emperor chose to be buried in a suit made of the lustrous green stone to protect his body from decay.

What exactly is this mystical green stone?

Not until the mid 19th century did we know that there are really two similar, yet different, minerals that are both considered jade. As a result, they are now classified as jadeite, which is sodium aluminum silicate, and nephrite, which is calcium magnesium iron silicate. The jadeite variety is the most valuable and therefore more expensive.

Where does it come from?

The most important jadeite deposits are found in Myanmar and more recently, deposits have been found in Central America. The nephrite variety is more plentiful with mines in Australia, North and South America and Taiwan.

History and Mysticism

In Chinese culture, the stone represents love and virtue. It is also believed that wearing a jade pendant protected a person from evil as he traveled. It is also supposed to have great healing properties. The Chinese would grind it up and eat it to cure kidney ailments and other internal ailments. The best way to benefit from the supposed healing abilities, wear it close to the skin like with a jade bangle bracelet.

There was also a belief that it granted immortality or, in the very least, protect the body from decay. The emperor with the suit was an extreme case, but most Chinese emperors were buried with an offering of jade. They also believed it was a link to the heavens and would bring good luck, good friendship and good health by wearing it or having a talisman. Figurines carved out of the green stone are used in the ancient art of Feng Shui.

How to clean your pieces

Both varieties are fairly hard, ranking between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs scales of hardness. That being said, it is a very strong mineral because of the tiny grains and fibrous pieces that tightly woven to create the stone.

To clean your jade earrings and other pieces, a soft cloth is all you need. Gently wipe the stone to bring it back to its lustrous sheen. If that does not remove all the residue, use only a gentle soap to clean. It is common for the stones to be treated with a resin or wax and harsh chemicals could damage the finish. The treatments are to simply bring out the best color possible.

Special significance of the stone

Though it is not an official birthstone, this wondrous green rock is the mystical birthstone for March and for the sun sign Virgo. It is also the gemstone used to commemorate the 12th wedding anniversary.

Jade jewelry often looks best cut into a cabochon to show off the most vibrant color. Because it carves so beautifully, filigreed jade pendants or smooth rounded pendants are common. It may or may not bring you good luck, but it will certainly add beauty to your collection.

Jade represents love and virtue, is more valuable than gold in Chinese culture, and is supposed to have great healing properties. Commemorate your 12th wedding anniversary with a beautiful jade ring from

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