Five Fun Facts About the History & Mythology Behind Jade

Author Corinne DiZoglio
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Date Feb 1, 2018

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Jade is an ornamental mineral found around the world. The term jade actually applies to two different minerals, nephrite and jadeite. Nephrite comes in a creamy white (known as “mutton fat” in China) and light green while jadeite comes in a variety of colors including blue, red, black, lavender, white, and dark green. It is, however, mostly known for its green varieties. Jade is revered in many cultures around the world including the Mayans, the Maori of New Zealand, and, most notably, the Chinese. Each culture has their own beliefs surrounding the stone, but in every case the mystical green stone is highly regarded. Here’s a closer look at the history and mythology surrounding jade!

1. What's In a Name?

    1. 1. 14K YELLOW GOLD JADE AND PERIDOT RING
      SOLD!

    2. 2. 14K YELLOW GOLD JADE RING
      SOLD!

The name jade comes from the Spanish expression “piedra de ijada,” which literally translates to “stone for the pain in the side.” When Spanish explorers came to Central America, they saw how the Mayans and Aztecs valued the stone. The natives used jade to cure or relieve various aches and pains by holding the stone to their sides. They also used jade for jewelry, ornaments, and religious artifacts. Here we have two great examples of jade rings. Both set in 14k yellow gold, the first is surrounded by ten oval cut peridots while the second let's the center jade stone speak for itself. They may not be able to cure your stomach ache, but they will definitely up your accessory game!

2. A Bangle A Day...

1. 14K YELLOW GOLD CARVED FLOWER JADEITE BRACELET
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  1. 2. 14K YELLOW GOLD CARVED JADEITE BRACELET
    SOLD!

The Chinese also believed in jade’s healing abilities. Bangles carved from a single piece of jade are thought to protect the wearer. There are numerous stories of people becoming seriously ill or being involved in accidents while wearing a jade bangle, only to have the bangle break at a critical time and the wearer miraculously recover from their illness or come out of the accident free from injury. It is said that the jade bangle protects the wearer by absorbing negative energy. Jade is also believed to reflect the life of the wearer, becoming more brilliant and bright during good times or dull during times of suffering. While we don't have any bangles, these bracelets are the next best thing! The first is designed with eight various colored jade carved flower panels. The second is comprised of seven carved and pierced jade panels depicting a dragon, birds and flowers all joined by scroll motif links. Just what the doctor ordered.

3. Immortality

  1. 1. 14K YELLOW GOLD JADEITE EARRINGS
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Jade is a major part of Chinese culture. There is a saying, “ Gold is valuable, but jade is priceless.” This thinking goes beyond the Chinese’s belief in jade’s healing abilities. The stone’s prominence is well woven into Chinese history and folklore. One story tells the tale of when the Mongols invaded China, and the dragons, saddened over those slain, cried tears that turned to jade when they touched the earth. To the Chinese jade, known as the “stone of heaven,” symbolizes goodness, beauty and purity, and is a spiritual substance. During the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.), Chinese nobility buried their dead with jade body plugs or even entire suits made of thin, rectangular plates of jade, believing the heavenly stone would help the deceased achieve immortality. Get ready to channel your inner Chinese goddess with these 14k yellow gold drop earrings suspending two circular pieces of jade.

4. Music to My Ears

  1. 1. 14K YELLOW GOLD OVAL CARVED NEPHRITE JADE PIN
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Jade carving is a long-standing tradition in China. Depending on the shape, a jade carving could mean many different things. A bat symbolizes happiness, a butterfly equals a long life, and a dragon means power, prosperity and goodness. Jade has also been used to create musical instruments such as chimes, xylophones, and gongs. Chinese poets have compared jade’s melodious sound to the voice of a loved one. Others use these instruments to produce “heavenly” tones for ritual practices. Here we have a beautiful carved nephrite jade pin set in 14k yellow gold.

5. Spiritual Guides

1. 18K YELLOW GOLD JADEITE AND DIAMOND PENDANT
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  1. 2. 14K YELLOW GOLD CARVED JADE BEAD PENDANT
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  2. 3. 14K YELLOW GOLD JADEITE ELEPHANT CHARM
    SOLD!

Jade is also a very important stone for the Maori people of New Zealand. Due to jade’s durability, the Maori used it for tools, weapons, and ornaments. Cherished jade was used to make heirloom pendants called hei-tiki. The Maori highly revered and carefully guarded these ancestral spirit objects. They believed the hei-tiki helped and guided their family. When a family required a new hei-tiki, they hired a “wizard” known as a tohunga to locate raw jade. After going to an area where jade could be found, the tohunga would enter into a trance to contact ancestral spirits for help. The wizard would then find jade where the spirits indicted. After locating the jade, a stoneworker would slowly work the piece to reveal the shape of the spirit inside. The natural shape of the stone largely determined the hei-tiki’s final form. Family heads would have their hei-tiki pendants buried with them. Afterwards, when the coast was clear, the nearest male relatives would return and retrieve the heirloom so it could continue to protect the family. We have a few jade pendants in our collection. The first is set with an oval jadeite and further set with 11 full cut and single cut diamonds. We also have a carved jade bead pendant as well as an adorable jadeite elephant charm.

Which jade piece would you like to add to your collection? Browse our full vintage & estate online collection or visit us in stores to see more jade vintage and estate jewelry!

Vintage & Estate Jewelry - Shop the Collection

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