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 luster, 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. It has been admired by Man in history in different areas with different cultures.
According to the archaeological data, the history of jade applications in China can be traced back to seven thousand years ago, the late Old Stone Age. By the late New Stone Age, jade ornamens such as bi (pierced disc), zhui (pendants), earrings, bracelets had appeared. The manufacture of Chinese jade articles were already highly developed by the Shang Dynasty(1751 B.C - 1111 B.C). During the Shang and Zhou dynasties(11th century B.C.- 256 B.C), jade articles were used as ritual objects and symbols of personal morality or political authority.
By the end of the Zhou Dynasty (11th Century B.C - 222 B.C) and the beginning of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C - 220 A.D), chinese jades reached a second peak in their development. Craftsman had at their disposal , more advanced tools and efficient methods of polishing jade and created masterpieces. 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.
Chinese is not the only nationality who long revered jade. In the Neolithic Age, jade culture occurred in Great Britain and a number of European countries, including Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Poland and Belgium. Prehistoric people in Europe used jade to making axes, scrapers and other weapons.
Notable European cultures such as the Greek, the Roman used jade extensively both as barter and as symbols of wealth and status. As early as the 16th century, Jadeite was believed to be a precious and hard jade with healing qualities for the human stomach and kidneys.
In ancient Egypt, jade was admired as the stone of love, inner peace, harmony and balance. In other regions and cultures too, jade was regarded as a lucky or protective stone; yet it had nowhere near the significance that it had in Asia, which was presumably due to the fact that people knew relatively little about this fascinating gem.
As long ago as the pre-Columbian period, the Mayas, Aztecs and Olmecs of Central America also honored and esteemed jade more highly than gold. The Aztecs instituted a tax in jade, which unfortunately led to the recycling of earlier artworks. New Zealand's Maoris began carving weapons and cult instruments from native jade in early times, a tradition which has continued to the present day.
Fortunately however, in recent times, people's understanding of this gem, which fascinates not only the connoisseurs by its perfect interplay of hardness and toughness with an enchanting range of colors and fine luster, has improved; and their esteem for it has been on the increase all over the world.
Learn more About Jade:
History of Jade
How Jade Differs
How to Make Jade Jewelry
How to Identify Jade Quality
How to Care For Jade Jewelry