A short history of jade (green stone)

Jade is found in nature. It varies in size, color and silicate mineral amounts, which determine whether the stone is made of Jadeite or Nephrite. Jade made from Nephrite is the most common.

Jade (or green stone) is a stone of many uses and of immense beauty. It is said that Jade blesses all it touches, and the stone is so used for over 6,000 years all over the world for various purposes.

Primitive tribes of the British Isles used the stone for their axes, knives and other weapons because of its strength and ability to sharpen and polish the stone beautiful shiny.

Jade is also the most prized stone in the long history of the culture and art of the Chinese empire, because of its stunning beauty and its power for healing and protection. There is an endless variety of gemstones, beads, vessels, incense burners, earrings, musical instruments, burial objects and images carved beautifully out of jade.The stone was known as the “Royal Gem” (“Yu”). (!) The value of jade to the Chinese could be compared to that of diamonds and gold in the west. Once a Chinese emperor offered 15 cities (!) for only a single jade carving which he could hold in the palm of his hand.

The indigenous tribes of Mexico, Central and South America and New Zealand used it for their sacred masks and other ritual objects. They threw it even in wells as a sacrifice to the holy spirits for plenty of fresh water. A great story is about the famous Montezuma, ruler of the Aztec empire. It is said that he smiled when he heard that the Spanish Conquistador Cortez was only interested in his gold, since Montezuma’s most precious possession was jade.

Picturesque New Zealand - Maori Wahine


The English word “jade” is derived from the Spanish term “piedra de ijada” (via Latin “ilia”, which means “kidney area, flanks”). This because of its reputation in curing ailments of the kidneys and loins.

The word “Nephrite” is derived from the term “lapis nephriticus”, which is the Latin version of the Spanish “piedra de ijada”.

In New Zealand Nephrite jade is known as “pounamu” in the language of the Māori and it plays a very important role in Māori culture. It is considered as a “taonga” (or treasure) and therefore it is protected under the Treaty of Waitangi. The exploitation of this type of jade is restricted and closely monitored. The jade is found only in the South Island of New Zealand, which is known as ‘Te Wahi Pounamu’ (“The Place of Greenstone”) of ‘Te Wai Pounamu’ in Māori (“The Greenstone Water”).

Weapons, tools and a variety of ornaments were made of jade. Think in particular of adzes, the ‘mere’ (short club) and the Hei-tiki (neck pendant). It was assumed that these items have their own mana. They were passed as valuable heirlooms and there is often given as gifts or to conclude important agreements. Nephrite jewelry of Maori design are very popular.


The dream stone

Jade is most prized for its special metaphysical properties. Jade is considered the ultimate “Dream Stone”. The stone is revered in ancient cultures, but it is also used today to gain access to the spiritual world, to gain insight into ritual knowledge, to encourage creativity and to understand the meaning of dreams. The stone is popular as a protective talisman, to ensure a long life and a peaceful death. That is why the stone is also considered a powerful healing stone. As a talisman of happiness and friendship, jade stands for wisdom gathered in tranquility, to eliminate all the negative and stimulate everyone to see themselves as they really are. Nephrite and Jadeite Scientifically, the name Jade is shared by 2 different minerals: Nephrite (a calcium-magnesium silicate) and Jadeite (a sodium-aluminum-silicate). Although they differ in composition, hardness, density and crystal structures, both types of stone are exceptionally tough, similar in appearance and of equal value as regards the metaphysical properties. Both types occur in the beautiful olive shades that we recognize as jade, but there are also differences. Nephrite usually occurs in creamy white, brown, black and medium to deep olive green. It has a smooth surface that can be polished to a waxy luster and is more common than Jadeite.Jadeite can also be found in shades of blue or blue-green, white-gray-green, leafy green, emerald green, pink, red, orange, lavender, green-black or black. It is hard and shiny, usually more expensive and rarer than Nephrite. The rarest and most valuable form of jade called Imperial Jade. This is a translucent, emerald green form of Jadeite, colored by traces of chromium.