Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jade - Stronger Than Steel

Some facts and folklore about Jade:
  • What is commonly referred to as Jade is actually two different stones, Nephrite and Jadeite. The difference between the two is in minor chemical composition. Both stones are so similar that only gemologists and mineralogists usually differentiate between them.
  • Pure Jade is white in color. Minor impurities create the familiar green but also the colors yellow, pink, red, violet, orange, brown and blue-green.
  • Although the stone is mostly used for jewelry and decorative items today, in ancient times the toughness and hardness of it made it useful for making tools and weapons. While diamonds and rubies are harder, they are more brittle than Jade. Some say that high quality Jade is harder and tougher than steel.
  • The stone was found in the mountains and river beds of ancient China, and was called The Stone of Heaven. Archaeologists have found objects made of Jade that date back to 5,000 B.C.E. It symbolized the noble bearing of a gentlemen, and served as a talisman for protection. The stone was a treasured gift, and the ancient Chinese also thought of it as a link between the physical and the spiritual world. Ancient Chinese Emperors would use Jade disks in rituals to speak to the gods.
  • The stone was not only used in ancient China for tools and weapons, but in Europe as well. As other materials were developed for tool and weapon making, Jade fell out of use in ancient Europe and was abandoned. Other materials for tools and weapons were also found in China, but the Chinese did not abandon the stone. They used it to make objects for ornamental and ritualistic purposes.
  • The working of Jade was already highly developed during the Shang Dynasty in China, 1751 B.C.E. - 1111 B.C.E.
  • Jade is currently found and mined in the following locations: The mountains of western China, Poland, Burma, The Alps in Italy, India, Switzerland, Alaska, and Russia.
  • One school of thought concerning the origin of the word Jade says that when the Spanish Conquistadors came to South America they saw the stone being worn on the loincloths of the natives, and called it piedra de hijada, which means the stone of the loin, but there is much conjecture about this word origin.

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Worked in a steel mill for 30 years. Amateur chef, piano player, book reader, letter writer, gardener, peace advocate.