by Brooke Bartlett
Discovered nearly 7,000 years ago, jade is a popular gemstone worldwide. With its Asian history and background, jade is an enchanting gem that can be used in many different types of jewelry. Jade is available in a myriad of colors and is a hard gem with a high level of durability. Believed to symbolize goodness, courage and wisdom, jade jewelry items, such as jade necklaces and jade rings, make a meaningful addition to your jewelry box or lovely gift for someone you adore.
Appearance: Green jade is the most popular, but jade can also be white, pink, red, black, brown, orange or purple. Jade's colors are rarely consistent throughout a stone, and jade gems are highly prized for their fascinating swirls, veins and patterns. Some jade stones have extremely rare patterns, making them even more desirable for all types of jewelry. With a rich luster, jade jewelry seems to glow, no matter how it is mounted.
Origin: Jade has significance in Asian culture, and it is known as the royal gem of China. Jade has also been prized in many other cultures. Ancient Egyptians and Mayans appreciated jade for its beauty, luster and durability. Jade is a metamorphic gem that is produced in the earth through intense heat and pressure, and it is most commonly found in China, Russia, Guatemala and Canada.
Selection tips:If you were to visit the famous jade markets in Hong Kong and shop the raw jade selections, you would have a very difficult time finding any lovely stones to take home. The quality of jade cannot be determined until it is cut. Buyers who purchase raw jade can wind up with beautiful, colorful gems or worthless stones that are discolored and undesirable. When you are choosing jade jewelry, consider the style of the piece and the setting, and select stones that appeal to you. Though the intense shades of jade typically command the highest prices, this versatile gemstone has something to offer every taste and jade necklaces, jade rings and jade bracelets can be found in a variety of hues.
Alternative uses:Before it was used ornamentally, jade was prized in other fields. Jade is a hard stone, which made it a popular material for tools, weapons and useful household items. Many non-jewelry jade items are available today, including jade bowls, jade statues and jade boxes. Jade is also commonly used to decorate religious items and is considered by some to have healing qualities. Green jade has always been popular for ornamental use.
Nephrite: Nephrite is a close relative of jade. In fact, jade and nephrite have only been categorized separately by scientists for about 100 years. Nephrite and jade have a very similar composition and appearance. Nephrite stones are typically green or grey, but white, red and yellow nephrite stones are also available. Nephrite is more common than jade and is also typically less expensive, but it is prized for its range of hues, some of which are unique and not found in jade gems.