Overflowing with cultural symbolism, superior colours and alluring lustre, jade has been revered by the East for centuries. The general term 'jade' actually encompasses two different gemstones: nephrite and jadeite as each has similar colours and properties. The most sought after of the two is jadeite and is therefore more readily associated with the name jade. Although jade featured heavily in Asian art and jewels, it was seldom used in European jewellery until the 20th century. The stone symbolises eternity and some believe that jade can bring luck to their life. This belief led to proclamations that jade was ‘the stone of heaven'.
Found in limited supply, jade has always been an extremely valuable gemstone in the jewellery market. The most famous mines for the best quality jade are located in Burma. In 1733 the Emperor was presented with an impressive array of jadeite gifts which were so spectacular that he named it an 'imperial gem' and thus became one of the most precious gemstones in China, favoured by Emperors over the generations.
Carved jade set into European jewellery only began to be used in the late 19th century. It was however during the Art Deco period that jade seduced the Western world. Inspired by jewels fashioned in the East, jade provided a highly desirable contrast to the brilliant scintillation of white diamonds, highlighted with lustrous translucent jade and opaque black onyx designs. Exquisite jewellery designs featured motifs such as dragons and pagodas, echoing the exoticism of jade's origins.
A famous collector of jade, Barbara Hutton, the Woolworths heiress (worth $900 million Dollars), was known for her impressive and varied jade jewellery collection. One of Barbara's wedding presents from her father- an impressive necklace made by Cartier Paris in 1934, was kept in the family until 1988. When it came up for auction catalogued as ‘one of the most splendid jade necklaces' in the world, it proved the cataloguing correct by selling for the highest ever price for jadeite jewellery! After that significant moment for this gemstone, more and more collectors began to show interest in jade pieces. The colour, clarity and high transparency have always been the key factors to its value.
Berganza has a varied collection of jade-set pieces of jewellery, dating from the late 19th century to Eastern inspired Art Deco designs and beyond to the retro period. Be beguiled by jade, the ‘stone of emperors', and find yourself a truly unique jewel today.