Jade


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Jade has its cultural roots in the smoke-dimmed caves and huts that sheltered prehistoric humans. Around the world, Stone Age workers shaped this toughest of gems into weapons, tools, ornaments, and ritual objects. Their carvings invoked the powers of heaven and earth and mystic forces of life and death. There are a number of processes used to alter the color, apparent clarity, or improve the durability of gems.

Some gemstones have synthetic counterparts that have essentially the same chemical, physical, and optical properties, but are grown by man in a laboratory. Any gem can be imitated—sometimes by manmade materials or by natural materials chosen by man to impersonate a particular gem.

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If properly cut, a white piece with a small green spot will make the gem appear completely green if lit from behind. Not unusually hard for a gem, both jade types are extremely tough. Neolithic knives and axe heads were often made of nephrite. Nephrite rings musically when struck.

The imperial court in China had jade wind chimes designed to ring specific notes. For both jadeite and nephrite, green is the most valued color. The best jadeite is semi-transparent. Jadeite has a lovely, smooth, and even texture that makes people want to touch and hold the gem.

While jade is rarely faceted like other gems, plain as well as intricate jade carvings are judged by their artistry.

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The Meaning of Jade in Feng Shui and Alternative Healing

Jadeite is generally sold by the piece rather than by weight. First Known Use of jade Noun 1 circa , in the meaning defined at sense 1 Verb , in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a Noun 2 14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1. History and Etymology for jade Noun 1 French, from obsolete Spanish piedra de la ijada , literally, loin stone, ultimately from Latin ilia , plural, flanks; from the belief that jade cures renal colic Noun 2 Middle English.

Learn More about jade. Resources for jade Time Traveler! Explore the year a word first appeared. Dictionary Entries near jade Jacunda jacutinga Jacuzzi jade jaded jade gray jade green. Time Traveler for jade The first known use of jade was in the 14th century See more words from the same century. More Definitions for jade. Kids Definition of jade. Comments on jade What made you want to look up jade?

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Test Your Vocabulary. Love words? Need even more definitions? In both types, the microscopic crystals are tightly interlocked to form a compact aggregate. Both jadestone types may be white or colourless, but colours such as red, green, violet, and gray may occur owing to the presence of iron, chromium, or manganese impurities, respectively. The most highly prized variety is jadeite of an emerald-green hue.

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The two different types of jade, when worked and polished, can usually be distinguished by their appearance alone. The fine lustre of polished nephrite is oily rather than vitreous glassy , while that of jadeite is the reverse. Some colours are also peculiar to one stone or the other; for example, the popular apple- and emerald-green jewelry jades are invariably jadeite. There are also wide variations of translucency in both stones. The area around the city of Mogaung in northern Myanmar Burma has long been the main source of gem-quality jadeite.

Jade - Wikipedia

Occurrences of nephrite are more numerous and geographically more widespread. Over the course of history, jade has been successively cut and shaped with sandstone, slate, and quartz sand as an abrasive ; by tools made of bronze; by tools of iron, using manually operated lathes; and finally, beginning in the 19th century, by machine-powered lathes, steel saws, and diamond-pointed drills. Carborundum and diamond dust have replaced crushed garnets and corundum emery as abrasives. Both jadestones were worked into implements by Neolithic peoples in many parts of the world.


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  • Jade is hard, tough, and heavy, and it takes and keeps a good edge, while its fine colours and warm polish must have greatly appealed to Neolithic craftsmen. When the stone-based Neolithic cultures were succeeded by ones using bronze and iron, however, jade gradually lost its industrial value and fell from favour as a gemstone in all but a few regions.

    Jade and jade carving are associated preeminently with China , since in no other region of the world has this obdurate material been worked with such skill in such a long and unbroken tradition see Chinese jade. For millennia the jade carved by the Chinese consisted of nephrite from the region of Hotan Khotan and Yarkand in what is now Sinkiang.

    Jadeite does not appear to have been worked by them until the 18th century ce , when large quantities of that jadestone began entering the country from Myanmar via Yunnan province. As early as the Neolithic period the Chinese were carving jade into tools and simple cult objects in the form of flat disks with circular orifices at their centre. During the Shang dynasty — bce , they began making small ornamental plaques with decorative designs of animals incised on them in low relief.

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