What Is Jade?
The name “Jade” actually applies to two completely different stones, nephrite and jadeite. They are both strong, colourful gemstones that have been prized by various cultures around the world for thousands of years. British Columbia is home to nephrite Jade, which we are proud to showcase and sell on our website and in our stores.
Why are there Two Types of Jade?
It all started in ancient China when nephrite used to be the stone commonly known as Jade. Only up until the 18th century was Jadeite introduced, meaning any Chinese jade dating before the 18th century will very likely be nephrite.
The people in China, having prized jade, extracted jade extraneously, quickly shortening their supply. With the shortage of nephrite jade, not too long after a large supply of Jadeite was found in Myanmar (Burma). At that time with simply the lack of rock/mineral science, both stones were believed to be the same stone, Jade.
Since Nephrite to this day is an extreme rarity in China, most jade that you would see in China is now Jadeite. Nephrite of course is still sold in China, but are usually of higher price due to either the fact nephrite is very difficult to make fakes of, or because most nephrite comes with natural “imperfections”, again making it difficult to ‘remove’ these imperfections. Jadeite on the other hand is graded by how much the stone has been processed, such as imperfections removed, opposed to nephrite, which is graded by how the stone appears naturally. This may be the reason why when you go to China, most all Jadeite pieces look “perfect”.
Where Does This Jade Come From?
Right here in BC, of course!
We specialize in Nephrite Jade, which comes not only from BC, but also Russia, China, Australia and New Zealand. Our website and stores showcase mostly BC Jade, however we offer a selection of pieces from other regions, but that will be indicated for each item.
Is Jade Easy to Carve?
We wish we could say yes, but sadly, no!
Nephrite Jade is the strongest natural stone in the world. Carvers in the area are scarce, and all of them will tell you one thing: if you can carve Jade, you can carve anything. Nephrite Jade can only be hand-carved with diamond-tipped tools, making Jade not only an extremely difficult and time-consuming stone to carve, but a very expensive one. Everything we sell is hand carved by some of the most talented artists, giving every piece its own unique charm.
Is This Real Jade?
We guarantee all of our Jade is 100% real nephrite. Supplied from the biggest nephrite mining company in the world, all of our Jade is graded and inspected at our warehouse before any carving is done to it. We even have a section showing examples of fake Jade, and how to tell the difference, located here. Due to the fact that our Jade is all natural, pieces purchased might not look exactly as they do in their pictures on the website.
What Makes Some Pieces More Expensive Than Others?
There are three main criteria that can make a piece of Jade more expensive:
Weight: This one’s easy. The amount of Jade in the piece can determine the price.
Quality: If you take a look at “What Determines Higher and Lower Quality Jade” located under this question, you can get an idea of what determines the quality of Nephrite Jade. Higher quality will obviously determine the price of the piece.
Effort: With Nephrite Jade being so strong, every line, every hole, and every cut you make in the stone is a lot of effort. Sometimes small pieces with a lot of detail are more expensive than larger pieces with less detail.
What Determines Higher and Lower Quality Jade?
Translucency: The more light that can pass through a piece, the higher quality it is.
Inclusions: While a lot of people like the different patterns that are created by the various imperfections in Jade (iron inclusions, calcium veins), they are found quite commonly, and therefore not as rare (and therefore valuable) as a piece with none.
Colour: This is, again, a little bit subjective, with some people preferring certain shades of green over others, but in terms of rarity (and therefore value), a vivid and consistent green colour is best, rather than a pale green, yellow-green or brown-green.
While many people do prefer pieces that don’t necessarily have all of these criteria, the pieces that do are much more rare, and therefore more expensive.
What are these Black Spots and White Lines in my Jade?
As mentioned previously, these are imperfections/inclusions in the jade. These are natural occurrences in almost every piece of nephrite, making every piece unique.
Black Spots in the jade are iron deposits. Iron is what makes jade dark, so generally the more iron a piece has, the darker it will be.
White lines, areas or dots are calcium deposits. Calcium appears as a paler green or a bright white colour. Not to be confused with micro-fractures, calcium may appear as a long streak throughout a piece, making it seem like a fracture.
In Chinese Culture
It has been worn and revered for thousands of years, and, for a long time, was reserved only for royalty. Wearing Jade was believed to bring good luck and prevent harm from befalling the wearer.
Jade has been an important part of Chinese culture since ancient times. No stone is more significant in Chinese culture than Jade, featuring in their mythology, religion, philosophy, folklore, social life and art. Ancient Chinese culture depicts Jade as a religious object, representing wisdom and a treasure of a king. Coined as the “Stone of Heaven”, Jade possessed the power to ward off evil, protecting the owner from bad luck. The character for Jade (玉) looks very similar to the character for king (王) and is to represent the connection between the earth and the heavens. It was believed to grant many health benefits and preserve bodies after death, so some even consumed powdered jade in their food and drinks.
In Maori Culture
The Maori people of New Zealand also revere Jade (or greenstone, as it is often called in New Zealand), and the use of it has been traced back as far as the 12th century. Due to its strength, it was often made into weapons, but was also used for jewellery. In Maori culture, they believed that by working a piece of Jade into a pendant, they were putting some of their life force, or “manna”, into the piece, and therefore they would strengthen one-another by exchanging pendants.
Jade is a symbol of purity and serenity, signifying wisdom gathered in tranquility. Associated with the heart chakra, increases love and nurturing. It is a protective stone, keeping the wearer from harm. It is believed to attract good luck and friendship. Jade releases negative thoughts as it soothes the mind. Jade removes toxins, rebinds cellular and skeletal systems, heals stitches, and balances the fluids within the body. It assists fertility and childbirth. Green jade calms the nervous system and channels passion in constructive ways. Green jade can be used to harmonize dysfunctional relationships.
Nephrite Jade is the toughest naturally-occurring stone in the world. While it’s common knowledge that diamond is the hardest stone, meaning it is the most resistant to scratching, it’s less well known that diamond is actually quite fragile. Nephrite Jade is not as hard as diamond, but it is the least fragile stone, which is what allows it to be carved into such delicate and intricate pieces, as well as solid bangles, without fear that they’ll break at the slightest touch.
How nephrite Jade forms
There are many ways that nephrite Jade can originate, but the following description is intended to give the reader a general concept of how nephrite Jade in British Columbia may have formed.
Nephrite Jade (Ca2(Mg,Fe2+)5(Si8O22)(OH)2) is a metamorphic stone: a rock that has been changed from its original form due to a change in heat and/or pressure.
In order for nephrite Jade to occur, the correct ratio of the following is required: calcium, iron, magnesium, silicate, and water.
First, magma rises to the sea floor forming fresh oceanic crust. This new crust cracks as it cools and ocean water begins to flow through, dissolving, altering, and creating new minerals in the process. Some of the new minerals formed include serpentine, a hydrous (containing water) mineral rich in iron, magnesium, and silicate.
As the ocean floor moves over millions of years, via plate tectonics, limestone (a calcium-bearing mineral) may eventually form on its surface. Eventually the sea floor will collide with a continent. During this collision mountains are formed, pressures and temperatures rise, and, where the serpentinite (a rock composed of one or more serpentine group minerals) and limestone meet, new minerals such as nephrite Jade may form. Just as you change your clothing to suit the climate outside, minerals change to suit their environment.
It is during the mountain building process that the elements recombine to form veins, lenses and pods of nephrite Jade, and it is thanks to glacial action that it is possible to find rounded, polished boulders of nephrite Jade on river beds.
Jade In The Modern World
Many gemstones are associated with milestone anniversary dates, including Jade. Jade is traditionally given on the 12th or 35th wedding anniversary as a symbol of strength and endurance in a relationship and a reminder of a special bond in our lives. Often a pendant is given to women and statues are given to men.
Modern sources list Jade as the birthstone for August and the mythical birthstone of March. The stone is associated with the astrological sign Virgo and was used in ancient times as a talisman to reward lasting friendships and good luck. Jade promotes healing, granting the wearer inner balance and peace. Its calming nature aids to deflect negative energy and is used as a tool for a conscious mind.
BC Jade Day — May 28th
Celebrating BC’s treasure, with the help from the British Columbian government, BC Jade day was made possible. The province of British Columbia holds about 70% of the world’s Jade, if not more, making it the biggest exporter of Jade in the world.
“B.C. nephrite jade is recognised as some of the best in the world and is sought after by artisans to make into jewellery and culturally important art in many countries. The world jade market is estimated at more than 300 tonnes per year with B.C. being one of the largest producers, responsible for almost three quarters of this coming from more than six large active jade deposits that are worked during the summer season.” —Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core Review
Medals in the Beijing 2008 Olympics
The 2008 Beijing Olympic medals were distinctive due to their rings of Jade surrounding the metal. Since true Chinese Jade is extremely rare, the medals took on an even greater significance. As an old Chinese saying goes, 黃金有價玉無價, translated as “You can put a price on gold, but you cannot put a price on Jade.”.