Mineralogy of Jade
Raw Nephrite Stone, Jordanów Śląski, Poland
Other Names: Jadeite, Nephrite
Mineral Family: Jadeite and Nephrite
Color: All colors
Transparency: Translucent, opaque
Fracture: Splintery, sharp edged, brittle
Fluorescence: Very weak
Color of Streak: White
Chemical System: Monoclinic; inter-grown, grainy aggregate
Chemical Composition: Ca2(Mg, Fe)5(Si8O22)(OH)2
Location: Jadeite and Nephrite are two distinct minerals, both of which are commonly called “Jade.” Nephrite is much more common and far more inexpensive. Deposits are found in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, United States (Alaska, California, and Wyoming), and Zimbabwe.
Mineral Family: The term “Jade” can refer to either Jadeite or Nephrite, two completely distinct Silicate minerals. Silicate minerals form the largest family of minerals, including more than 25% of all known minerals and 40% of all common minerals. In addition to being a major part of the Earth’s crust, Silicate minerals have also been found on the moon and in meteorites. Silicates are minerals which contain the elements Silicon (a light gray shiny metal) and Oxygen (a colorless gas). Together, these two elements form a tetrahedron – a shape similar to a pyramid – with a Silicon atom in the center and Oxygen atoms at each of the four corners. These tetrahedra connect with other chemical structures, in six different ways, to form various minerals and rocks. There are six main groups of Silicate minerals, and these main groups are further subdivided into secondary subdivisions, such as Quartz and Feldspar. Jadeite belongs to the “Single-Chain Inosilicate” group, making it closely related to Astrophyllite, Diopside, Kunzite, Nuummite, and Rhodonite. Nephrite belongs to the “Double-Chain Inosilicates” group and has no well-known mineral relatives.
Formation: Nephrite Jade is typically formed by contact metamorphism. Contact metamorphism occurs when an igneous intrusion disrupts existing rocks, and the heat and pressure from the intrusion causes the stones to melt and recrystallize. This process creates new minerals, and the rocks to become metamorphic. Nephrite is particularly likely to appear if the original stone was magnesium-rich Limestone, which during the metamorphic process becomes marble.
Mining: Nephrite Jade is mined at its primary location, while usually found as small rocks and sheets, occasionally a large find is found, like the “Polar Pride” found in 2000 in British Columbia, Canada. Most Nephrite Jade is destined for the Chinese market.
Nephrite boulder, “Polar Pride”, Jade West Group, British Columbia, Canada
Enhancements: Much of the “Jade” sculptures and ornaments on the market are fake (made of glass and plastic) or dyed. When the Jade is authentic, it is almost always Nephrite. True Jadeite is very expensive! Green Jade tumbled stones are virtually always Nephrite and are fully natural, enhanced only by the tumbling process itself.
Map courtesy of TravelBlog
Photos: Rough Nephrite, Polar Pride
History of Jade
Jadeite and Nephrite are two distinct minerals, both of which are commonly called “Jade.” Jade has been treasured since the dawn of history in Eastern Asia and Central/South America, where most of the larger deposits are found. In China and Japan, as well as in the Aztec language, the words for “Jade” and “precious stone” are, in fact, identical. In Eastern Asia, Jade has much of the same allure that diamonds do in the West. In fact, the most desirable form of Jade, “Imperial Jadeite” (vibrant emerald green), has been sold for millions per carat on the modern market. Only a single gemstone, the vivid “Pink Star Diamond,” has commanded a better price per carat!
Long before the dawn of civilization, early man was attracted to Jade, for both utility and beauty. Jade can hold an edge better than most stones, and so was made into prehistoric ax-heads, hammers, carving implements, and other sharp tools. The oldest known Jade tool has been dated between 8000-9000 BCE! Because Jade can be easily carved and polished, it has also been used to make statues and charms for thousands of years. Jade carvings often carry deep meanings, making them more than just simple decorations. For example, in China a carving of a Jade mountain symbolizes the wish for a long life, while a Jade butterfly symbolizes the immortality of the soul and power of love.
Because Jadeite and Nephrite look very similar, they were not scientifically distinguished as two separate minerals until 1863. However, master Chinese craftsmen have long noticed that some Jade (specifically that from Myanmar/Burma) is harder and denser, and also is somewhat easier to carve and takes a higher polish. As a result, it became the preferred variety, especially when found with a vivid color. This type of Jade is now known as Jadeite. All other Jades, including those found in the Americas, are properly called Nephrite.
The greatest source for Jade lore comes from China. According to one legend, Jade is the petrified tears of dragons who have cried whenever China was conquered by invaders. Another story relates that Jade is the concentrated essence of true love. As a result, Jade is traditionally often given to newlyweds, and is said to assure the quick and easy birth of an heir. Newborn babies in the East have worn Jade amulets to protect them from childhood diseases for centuries. Countless generations of businessmen have carried Jade in their pockets to help them during negotiations, while many farmers traditionally bury Jade near their crops to protect them from both heavy rain and drought.
Among the Chinese royal and noble classes, Jade’s allure was even more marked. In the Chinese writing system, the original word for “king” took the form of a string of Jade beads. Confucius wrote about the “eleven virtues of Jade”, which corresponded with the ethical behavior of the feudal upper class. For example, Jade’s soft glossy texture symbolized the importance of “benevolence.” Confucius himself was closely linked to Jade. According to legend, his birth was announced by a unicorn who gave his mother a Jade tablet, and proclaiming that he would be the greatest of all philosophers, and a “throneless” king.
Chinese religious ceremonies and Feng shui also call for Jade ornaments of specific shapes and colors. A piece of round Green Jade symbolizes heaven, while a square of Yellow Jade symbolizes earth. When used together, they symbolize the soul in balance. Black Jade was for the North, Red Jade for South, White Jade for West, and Green Jade for East, when used together they are thought to bring harmony to a person or space.
Jade holds an especially important place in the Tao religion. For example the supreme god is known as the Jade Emperor, who lives in a Jade Palace, on top of a Jade Mountain, 3000 feet in circumference and height. At the foot of the Jade Mountain, is the Jade Lake, near which blooms the Jade Tree, which can give immortality. The Jade Emperor has the power to grant earthly prayers and it is to him that most devotees address their pleas.
Jade also holds an important place in traditional Chinese medicine. It is typically powdered or reduced into pebbles the size of rice grains, and ingested. It is said to relieve heart-burn and asthma, strengthen the lungs and heart, as well as increase the sheen of the hair. When Jade is made into a tonic with rice and dew-water, it is said to strengthen the muscles, improve flexibility, and calm the mind. When mixed instead with gold or silver, it was said to prolong life itself.
Olmec Jade Mask
Similarly, Jade was given special meaning in Central and South America. It was used for medicinal purposes, buried with nobles, and used to bring man into peace and harmony with his environment. Many examples of fine Jade carvings have been found belonging to the Mayan, Aztec, and the mysterious Olmec civilizations. Natives in Brazil have handed down Jade amulets for generations, believing that they protect the family against diseases and poison. A similar tradition was also followed in New Zealand among the Maori. They believed that precious Jade could only be found with the help of a wizard, who was aided by the spirits of the dead. When a piece of Jade was found, it would be carved to represent ancestors, and passed down through the male line as a source of power and strength.
Because Jade wasn’t introduced to Europe until the 16th century, it was not included in ancient or medieval European lapidaries, texts which describe gemstones and their powers. It is thought that Marco Polo described Jade in his travels, possibly even visiting a Nephrite mine in central Asia in 1295. Marco Polo refers to the stone as a “Jasper,” a generic term during the medieval period referring to any variety of green stone. In the 14th century lapidary by Chevalier Jean de Mandeville, there is a stone called Silente which most likely was a reference to Jade. Accordingly, Silente, “waxes and wanes like the moon. It protects pregnant women and helps them deliver on time. It brings peace and agreement and helps to reconcile lovers. It raises the morals and lessens inflammation.”
Jade was properly introduced to Europe by explorers returning from the New World, and it is from this period that we can trace the etymological origin of the names, Nephrite and Jadeite. In Europe, Jade was originally called by the Greek name, lapis nephriticus (stone for the kidneys) and the Spanish name, piedra de hijada (stone of the flank) since Jade was used by the Aztecs to treat kidney and bowel conditions. Over time, piedra de hijada became first l’ejade, and then simple “Jade.” When gemologists discovered that Jade was actually two minerals in the nineteen century, they called the more precious variety “Jadeite” and used “Nephrite,” from lapis nephriticus, for the more common variety.
The foundation for European beliefs about Jade can be traced to a 16th century medical book. In 1569, Dr. Nicolas Monardes of Seville, a Spanish physician and botanist, made the first European reference to Jade in his Historia medicinal de las cosas que se traen de nuestras Indias Occidentales (Medical Study of the Products Imported from our West Indian Possession). Dr. Monardes described the physical appearance of Nephrite Jade and how it was commonly carved in Central America. He then wrote, “The Indians used to wear them attached for kidney or gastric pains, for they had marvelous efficiency for both these infirmities…This stone has an occult property by means of which it exercises a wonderful prophylactic effect [preventing diseases].” To further illustrate his point, he included descriptions of various European gentlemen and noble ladies who had worn Jade to overcome various illnesses or reduce pain. For centuries afterward, many physicians and noble patients wore Jade bracelets or beads to cure numerous ailments. Some recommended that Jade be worn constantly, while others cautioned against overuse, so that the body wouldn’t become too tolerant of it, causing it to be less effective over time.
Photos: Imperial Jade, Dragon, Jade Emperor, Olmec Mask
Healing Properties of Green Jade
Spiritual: Green Jade has a wonderful energy, both peaceful and joyful. It encourages us to enjoy the simple fact that we are alive, to love, to struggle, to learn, and just to be what we truly are – spiritual beings on a mortal journey. Green Jade teaches us how to live in harmony, both inside our own skin as well as with the larger world. It also attracts financial abundance and good luck, from the standpoint that when our physical needs are attended to properly, we have the time and energy to devote ourselves to developing our spiritual self. Green Jade dismisses both scarcity-thinking and greed, reminding us that we deserve to live well and that we don’t need to take from others in order to take care of ourselves. Green Jade is attuned to the Heart Chakra; is linked to Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Libra, and the element of Earth; and vibrates to the numbers 5 and 11.
Emotional: Green Jade has a calm, soothing energy that helps us to look on the bright side and not be discouraged by difficulties. Green Jade attracts true friends and loyal partners, helping us build a strong emotional support system. It reminds us to actively love and nurture the important people in our lives – including our own self! Green Jade is also very good for healing dysfunctional relationships when both people are dedicated to the process, for example, a couple undergoing marriage counseling. But, when only one person is willing to do the work for a healthy relationship, Green Jade encourages us to stop giving the unhealthy relationship our attention and energy. Instead, Green Jade reminds us that we are self-sufficient and worthy of true love. It asks us to give our energy to relationships that feed our heart and soul. When we focus on giving and receiving emotional nourishment like this, our lives naturally become playful and peaceful.
Mental: Green Jade has a thoughtful energy, helping us to see situations clearly and objectively, and not be distracted by habitual negative thinking. It is a hopeful stone, but also one that encourages us to look at life from a logical point of view, to see systems and patterns, and problem solve accordingly. Green Jade encourages tolerance, inclusiveness, and practicality. It helps us to break down complex ideas into smaller and more manageable chunks, so they can be acted upon more easily. Green Jade is also a stone of sudden inspiration, that “Eureka!” moment of understanding which moves us into positive action.
Physical: Green Jade is used by metaphysical healers to heal the physical heart and soothe the nervous system. It is also said to be a particularly good stone for the kidneys and adrenal glands. It is believed to increase fertility and ease childbirth.
Always use wisdom when considering crystal therapies for healing.
Earth to Pocket
Earth to Pocket is the Moonrise Crystal business mission. It’s the promise that any stones purchased here will be consciously sourced and the journey of the stone, from the Earth and into your Pocket, will be as transparent as possible.
This stone was mined in Pakistan and tumbled in the United States.
I first met the tumbler at the 2014 Gem and Mineral show in Tucson, Arizona and was immediately impressed by the size and quality of the tumbled stones. It is a family run business, with the father having migrated to the United States from Pakistan many years ago. He still has many contacts in his native country and so is able to get extremely high quality stones from the region.
It would be my pleasure to hand-select a beautiful Green Jade for you.
This price is for one stone. You can buy a single Green Jade or several, depending on your individual needs. Each Green Jade measures approximately 1 inch at its longest length and has a unique shape with soft edges. Tumbled stones are natural products and variations are part of their beauty.
The stone I choose for you will be a molted green with no inclusions. If you buy multiple stones, I will choose stones that look and feel particularly good together. Stones will be cleansed and smudged with sage before being shipped to you.
With their beautiful colors and clean energies, these Green Jades are perfect for crystal healing. Add them to a medicine bag, place them on an altar, use them in a crystal elixir, fashion them into jewelry, or simply carry them in your pocket.
Safe Handling of Green Jade
Good To Know:
Green Jade Stones are physically durable stones. As long as they are rounded and without thin edges, they can be carried in a pocket or medicine bag, or worn as jewelry on an everyday basis, without significant danger of the stone chipping or breaking.
Green Jade Stone can be physically cleansed with water or a dusting cloth.
Green Jade Stone can be energetically cleansed using any method. They will appreciate being soaked in fresh water, set outside to absorb the moonlight, and/or being smudged with smoke or incense. Use your own intuition to determine the best method.
Tumbled and fully smooth Green Jade Stone can be safely used to make direct-infusion “Green Jade Stone Water” for drinking or bathing. Before making any direct-infusion elixir ALWAYS check the mineralogical properties of the stone to ensure it is not toxic. Only use fully tumbled stones or natural Quartz points in direct-infusion elixirs, never rough stones. When in doubt, make an indirect-infusion elixir instead.
Green Jade Stones can be left in sunshine for extended periods of time without losing their color. However, it is always considered a “best practice” to keep your stones and crystals out of direct sunlight as much as possible.