Lovely Jade wire wrap cabachon wrapped in 14 karat gold rolled wire. Pendant over all size is
Jade is a name that for centuries was applied to ornamental gemstones people were bringing to Europe from China and Central America. It wasn't until 1863 that society realized the term "jade" was being applied to two different minerals. The two exquisite minerals are relatively hard to distinguish from each other, and so even today both are still called jade. The first mineral, nephrite, is an amphibole silicate (basic magnesium, iron silicate) in the actinolite series and usually only green and creamy white. The second, jadeite, is a sodium aluminum silicate and can have the full range of jade's colors.
Since at least 2950 B.C., jade has been treasured in China as the royal gemstone, yu. According to archeological findings, the Chinese first began to know and use jade in the early Neolithic Age. The ancient Chinese believed jade was the essence of heaven and the earth, and carved jade into birds and beasts to use as items of worship. Jade was also a symbol of power, and only aristocrats could own items made from the gemstone. It was even made a standard of morality for the Chinese. Confucius concluded that jade had 11 virtues, including benevolence, fidelity, polite etiquette, wisdom and sincerity. Hence, jade was not only a decoration, but also a symbol of ethics and behavior. The fashion of wearing jade accessories soon was adopted, and it was said that a true gentleman would never leave his jade ornaments behind. The Chinese even consumed powdered jade as a remedy for just about every ailment known, and even the dying drank it as a powerful embalming solution.
In Central America, the Olmecs, Mayans and Toltecs also treasured jade and used it for carvings and masks. The Aztecs instituted a tax in jade, which unfortunately led to the recycling of earlier artworks. The history of jade in Europe is not quite as distinguished. Although prehistoric axes and blades carved from jade have been found, most Europeans were unfamiliar with jade as a gemstone for jewelry use until the 16th century, when jade objects were imported from China and, later, Central America. The Portuguese, who brought back jade pieces from their settlement in China, called jade piedre de ilharga, or gemstone of the loins, because they believed it to be a strong medicine for kidney ailments. The Spanish adapted their own version of this phrase, piedra de hijada, when jade objects were brought home from the New World. This term soon became the French ejade, and then finally, the English "jade."
Jade's appearance is warm, approachable and desirable, admirable for both its simplicities and complexities. Jade is said to help protect the kidneys, heart, larynx, liver, spleen, thymus and thyroid, and strengthen the body. It also is believed to add longevity, and is known as a symbol of love and virtue. Jade is mined in China, Canada, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Taiwan and the U.S.A.