Jade: Gem of the Ancients

August 31, 2018

If gemstones went to college, jade would get a B.A. in Philosophy. It would skip class to meditate in the greenhouse and have a penchant for green tea. Lucky for us, gemstones don’t go to college. We like them in jewelry.

Jade is actually a catchall for two different minerals: jadeite and nephrite. While chemically different, they appear very similar to the untrained eye. Jadeite comes in varieties that are more visually pleasing, and therefor command a higher price. Unless otherwise noted, all jade pieces at JB Hudson are jadeite.

Most of the jade pieces found at JB Hudson are vintage. Jade production in the United States peaked during the Great Depression, and slowly faded after World War II. Our resident estate jewelry guru, Kimberley Thompson, recounts selling a very impressive Art Deco brooch with a goldfish, carved entirely from jadeite, set in the center.

Kimberley has a soft spot for jade. She reminds us: ‘never has there been a gem so directly tied to a culture— the entire Asian continent, than jade’. To the Asian culture, jade holds a spiritual importance. In Confucianism, jade represents virtue; its brightness represents heaven. Almost fifteen hundred years before Confucius ever first saw jade, around the year 2950 BC, the ancient Chinese started to develop a written language. One of the first characters they developed was to represent jade: yu.

Jade does not sparkle like most other gems. Instead, the light seems to radiate out from inside. The highest quality of jade, known as imperial, glows an emerald green hue. Lesser qualities of jade are more opaque and don’t return light and glow in the same manner.

Jade can be found in a myriad of colors, like this white belt buckle. While green is by far the most commonly seen color, colors such as purple, black, orange, and pink are sometimes seen. This lavender bangle, pictured below, has an electric saturation similar to lightning.

If you have someone in your life that is too ‘earthy’ to wear fine jewelry, introduce them to jade. When it catches the light, it seems to embody the essence of life. Full jewelry box? Jade is a good addition to the standard sapphire, ruby, emerald rotation that you’re used to. To learn more about jade, or to find out about all of Kimberley’s interesting jewelry sales, please contact us here.