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'Jade', or yu, as it is called in China, is strictly speaking a generic term for
two different gems, nephrite and jadeite. The name is derived from the
Spanish 'piedra de ijada', loin-stone, jade having been recognised by the
Amerindians as a remedy for kidney ailments. Because of its beneficial
effect on the kidneys, the stone was also known as 'lapis nephriticus'. That,
indeed, is where the term 'nephrite' came from.
Jadeite and nephrite are both regarded in China as 'zhen yu', 'genuine jade'.
It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that mineralogists and
gemologists started to differentiate between them, since they bear a
considerable resemblance to each other in terms of their appearance, their
hardness and the properties they exhibit when being processed. Both are
tough, since they consist of dense, close-grained, matted aggregates, but
they differ from one another in their chemical composition and colors.
Nephrite ranges mainly from mid to dark green or grey-green, but it can
also be white, yellowish or reddish. Rarer, and somewhat tougher, jadeite
displays hues which include green, but also white or pink, and reds, blacks,
browns and violets. In both minerals, the way the color is distributed varies
a great deal. Only in the very finest jade is the color evenly distributed.
Both nephrite and jadeite often have veins, blemishes and streaks running
through them, though these may not always be regarded as flaws. On the
contrary, some of these patterns are considered particularly valuable.
Jade – a gemstone of unique symbolic energy, and unique in the myths that
surround it. With its beauty and wide-ranging expressiveness, jade has held
a special attraction for mankind for thousands of years.
This gem, with its discreet yet rather greasy lustre, which comes in many
fine nuances of green, but also in shades of white, grey, black, yellow, and
orange and in delicate violet tones, has been known to Man for some 7000
years. In prehistoric times, however, it was esteemed rather more for its
toughness, which made it an ideal material for weapons and tools. Yet as
early as 3000 B.C. jade was known in China as 'yu', the 'royal gem'. In the
long history of the art and culture of the enormous Chinese empire, jade
has always had a very special significance, roughly comparable with that of
gold and diamonds in the West. Jade was used not only for the finest
objects and cult figures, but also in grave furnishings for high-ranking
members of the imperial family. Today, too, this gem is regarded as a
symbol of the good, the beautiful and the precious. It embodies the
Confucian virtues of wisdom, justice, compassion, modesty and courage,
yet it also symbolises the female-erotic.
In ancient China and Egypt jade was used as a talisman to attract good
fortune and friendship. Worn as an amulet it is believed to protect one from
evil while traveling and to promote wisdom and ensure a long life.
Helps to protect the kidney, heart, larynx, liver, spleen, thymus, thyroid and
strengthens the body. Jade is known as a symbol of love and virtue.