Every piece of jade is unique and one of a kind. Mined in northern British Columbia, the nephrite jade is loaded onto massive off-road trucks and transported to our shop in Everson, WA. For more info on the mines in B.C., click here.
Nephrite jade is among the most durable of gemstones. It has a hardness rating of 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale.
Diamonds are rated a ten, quartz is seven, and gold is a three. Nephrite jade is virtually stain and scratch-resistant. Once at our shop, the rough jade is cut, polished, and shaped into tables, countertops, vases, mantles, urns, memorials, and fountains. Custom orders are encouraged, and with our large range of cutting and polishing tools, we can prepare any piece for sculptors and artisans.
There are two different types of jade: nephrite and jadeite. High grades of both are sought after by collectors and are used for jewelry and decoration.
Geologically, nephrite is a carbon silicate with iron, magnesium, chrome, and calcium. Due to its interlocking fibrous structure, nephrite jade rarely breaks and is the toughest natural material known. It can vary from green and white through to swirling greens to black. The amount of iron within the rock determines its color, which ranges from white (no iron) to green. The more iron is present, the deeper the green.
Nephrite jade is also found in Australia, China, Russia, California, South America, and New Zealand. However, the largest deposits are found in British Columbia, Canada. Coincidentally, British Columbia is the world’s largest producer of nephrite. Nephrite from this province is world-renowned as being the hardest, clearest, and greenest nephrite mined.
Jadeite is a silicate of sodium and aluminum and is mined mainly in Burma, Guatemala, and Russia. Structurally, jadeite is composed of interlocking crystals, which makes it less tough, but harder than nephrite. Whereas iron is the cause of nephrite’s green color, in jadeite, this is due to the presence of chromium. In addition to green, jadeite can also be found in shades of white, brown, grey, blue, orange, red, black, and lavender.
Jade is said to possess all the virtues. It is also tough, translucent, smooth, and cold to touch. Early civilization used articles of jade for ceremonial purposes, weapons, and supernatural talismans. Jade has been credited with preventing disease and used as medicine. It is considered good luck to give and to possess. It is recognized as the gem of Alaska, the Yukon, and British Columbia. It is also the 35th wedding anniversary gem.
Nephrite jade is an extremely tough material to work on. Nephrite jade is fibrous in structure, similar to a handful of human hair. Due to this fibrous structure, it cannot be cut with chisels; it has to be ground using very hard, sharp abrasives diamonds. All of the saw blades used have a diamond embedded in a soft matrix. This allows the soft matrix to slowly wear away, exposing new diamonds. It is the hardness of the diamond particles being dragged over the softer jade that does the cutting.
The Chinese admire jade above all other valuable materials, even gold and ivory. In Chinese culture, jade is believed to be a link between the physical and spiritual worlds and is thought to be the material form that most completely embodies both the yin and yang qualities of heaven and earth. Thus it is called “The Stone of Heaven.” The Mandarin word for jade is “yu.” This character is similar to a capital “I” with a line across the middle. The top of the character represents heaven, and the bottom represents earth, with the line in the middle symbolizing mankind.
The following description of the “Eleven Virtues of Jade” is attributed to the sage Confucius (551-479 BCE):
“The wise have likened jade to virtue. For them, its polish and brilliancy represent the whole of purity. Its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent the sureness of intelligence. Its angles, which do not cut, although they seem sharp, represent justice. The pure and prolonged sound, which it gives forth when one strikes it, represents music. Its color represents loyalty. Its interior flaws, always showing themselves through the transparency, call to mind sincerity. Its iridescent brightness represents heaven. Its admirable substance, born of mountain and of water, represents the earth. Used alone without ornamentation, it represents chastity. The price that the entire world attaches to it represents the truth. To support these comparisons, the Book of Verse says: ‘When I think of a wise man, his merits appear to be like jade.'”
Another Chinese saying states that “gold has value; jade is beyond value.”
The ancient Chinese believed that powdered jade taken internally could cure virtually any ailment and perhaps even bring immortality if consumed in the right quantity. Jade is a non-conductor, so it feels cool to the touch. This coolness is said to elevate and purify one’s thoughts, quiet the mind, and help induce a state of contemplation.
Wearing jade was thought not only to confer greater health and vitality but also to ward off bad luck and misfortune. One ancient text states, “Jade cannot prevent the living from dying, but it can preserve the corpse from decaying.” Liu Sheng, the ruler of the Zhongshan State (113 BC), must have been a believer: he was buried (as were other royalty) in a suit of 2,498 pieces of jade sewn together with several pounds of gold thread.