Jade: Origins and Folklore

the story of jade in jewellery


front view Jade and diamond ring, circa 1950.
Jade and diamond ring, circa 1950.
Ref: 15674

Thursday 26th September 2019

Jade, with its attractive lustre and immense strength, has been revered by many cultures over time. The pre-Columbian civilisations of South America valued it more than gold, and the Ancient Egyptians thought of it as the stone of love and harmony. Throughout Chinese history jade has been extremely sought after and still is today, as it is believed to symbolize good fortune and happiness.

The term jade actually covers two types of gemstones: Jadeite and Nephrite. It is only very recently that the distinction was made clear, as a green specimen of each can look almost identical to one another. Jadeite is rarer and more precious. Jade from Burma and southern China is rated as the finest in the world, followed by jadeite from Siberia. The most well-known current source of nephrite is New Zealand.

Nephrite jade has its cultural roots in the smoke-filled caves and shelters that housed prehistoric humans. In Europe, China, and elsewhere around the world, Stone Age workers worked this toughest of gem materials into tools, decorative ornaments, weapons and ritual objects. Their carvings were said to summon the powers of heaven and earth and the mystic forces of life and death.

It is rumoured the origin of the name jade comes from the Spanish expression ‘piedra de ijada’, this translates as “stone of the pain in the side.” Early Spanish explorers gave it that name after they saw the native people holding fragments of the stone to their sides to cure or relieve various maladies.

Asian cultures never lost their infatuation with jade, and today, non-Asian buyers are drawn to jade as never seen before. All are lured in by its rich cultural heritage as much as its, durability and rarity.

The gemstone material occurs in a wide variety of colours that include green, white, lavender, yellow, blue, black, red, orange, and grey. The versatility and variety of this stone makes it perfect for use in jewellery.

Looking to purchase your own piece of rare and alluring jade jewellery? Please visit us in our Hatton Garden store or view our full collection online.

Antique solitaire jade locket ring berganza hatton garden
Victorian Burmese jade locket ring, circa 1870.
Ref: 24583
Vintage jade and diamond cluster ring berganza hatton garden
Jade and diamond cluster ring, circa 1940.
Ref: 24442
Art Deco jade and onyx pendant berganza hatton garden
Art Deco jade and onyx pendant, circa 1925.
Ref: 24785
Vintage jade ring by George Lenfant berganza hatton garden
Georges Lenfant jade ring, French, circa 1945.
Ref: 24338
Edwardian jade diamond cluster ring berganza hatton garden
Edwardian jade and diamond coronet cluster ring, circa 1910.
Ref: 24864
Natural Lavender jadeite jade bead necklace Berganza hatton garden
Natural lavender jade bead necklace with diamond set clasp, circa 1950.
Ref: 17479
 vintage natural jade necklace berganza hatton garden
Natural carved jade Pendant, English, circa 1960.
Ref: 23302
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Updated 19/10/2019 at 2:43PM

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