Last updated
Unworked jade
Category Mineral
Crystal system Monoclinic
ColorVirtually all colors, mostly green
Crystal habit Intergrown grainy or fine fibrous aggregate
Cleavage None
Fracture Splintery
Tenacity Brittle
Mohs scale hardness6–7
Diaphaneity Translucent, opaque
Specific gravity 2.9–3.38
Refractive index 1.600–1.688
Birefringence 0.020–0.027
Pleochroism Absent
Dispersion None
Main jade producing countries Jade gisements.jpg
Main jade producing countries

Jade is a mineral used as jewellery or for ornaments. It is typically green, although may be yellow or white. Jade can refer to either of two different silicate minerals: nephrite (a silicate of calcium and magnesium in the amphibole group of minerals), or jadeite (a silicate of sodium and aluminium in the pyroxene group of minerals). [1]


Jade is well known for its ornamental use in East Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian art. It is commonly used in Latin America, such as Mexico and Guatemala. The use of jade in Mesoamerica for symbolic and ideological ritual was influenced by its rarity and value among pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Olmecs, the Maya, and other ancient civilizations of the Valley of Mexico.

The English word "jade" is derived from the Spanish term piedra de ijada, which means 'loin stone', as it was believed to cure ailments of the loins and kidneys. Jadeite, a type of jade, was imported to China from Burma starting in 1800 and became highly popular. In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, jade was a rare and valued material, mainly sourced from the Motagua River valley in Guatemala. Jade played a crucial role in Māori culture in New Zealand, where it is called pounamu, and was used to create various tools, weapons, and ornaments. Jade has been mined in Canada since the 1970s, and it is also found in Russia, where it is used in jewelry production.


The jade trade in Myanmar consists of the mining, distribution, and manufacture of jadeite—a variety of jade—in the nation of Myanmar (Burma). The jadeite deposits found in Myanmar's northern regions are the source of the highest quality jadeite in the world, noted by sources in China going as far back as the 10th century. Chinese culture places significant weight on the meaning of jade; as their influence has grown in Myanmar, so has the jade industry and the practice of exporting the precious mineral.

Myanmar produces upward of 70 percent of the world's supply of high-quality jadeite. [30] [31] Most of the Myanmar's jadeite is exported to other nations, primarily Asian, for use in jewellery, art, and ornaments. The majority of the production is carried out by Myanma Gem Enterprise (MGE), a state-owned venture which has enough liquid assets to run itself for 172 years. [32]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Actinolite</span>

Actinolite is an amphibole silicate mineral with the chemical formula Ca2(Mg4.5-2.5Fe2+0.5-2.5)Si8O22(OH)2.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hei-tiki</span> Ornamental pendant of the Māori of New Zealand

The hei-tiki is an ornamental pendant of the Māori of New Zealand. Hei-tiki are usually made of pounamu (greenstone), and are considered a taonga (treasure) by Māori. They are commonly called tiki by New Zealanders, a term that originally refers to large human figures carved in wood and to the small wooden carvings used to mark sacred places.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Karakash River</span> River in Xinjiang, China

The Karakash or Black Jade River, also spelled Karakax, is a river in the Xinjiang autonomous region of the People's Republic of China that originates in Aksai Chin. It passes through the historical settlement of Xaidulla and passes by the city of Khotan (Hotan) to flow northeast in the Tarim Basin. It merges with the Yurungkash River, the combined river taking the name Hotan River and flowing into the Tarim River.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jadeite</span> Pyroxene mineral

Jadeite is a pyroxene mineral with composition NaAlSi2O6. It is hard (Mohs hardness of about 6.5 to 7.0), very tough, and dense, with a specific gravity of about 3.4. It is found in a wide range of colors, but is most often found in shades of green or white. Jadeite is formed only in subduction zones on continental margins, where rock undergoes metamorphism at high pressure but relatively low temperature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nephrite</span> Variety of jade

Nephrite is a variety of the calcium, magnesium, and iron-rich amphibole minerals tremolite or actinolite (aggregates of which also make up one form of asbestos). The chemical formula for nephrite is Ca2(Mg, Fe)5Si8O22(OH)2. It is one of two different mineral species called jade. The other mineral species known as jade is jadeite, which is a variety of pyroxene. While nephrite jade possesses mainly grays and greens (and occasionally yellows, browns, black or whites), jadeite jade, which is rarer, can also contain blacks, reds, pinks and violets. Nephrite jade is an ornamental stone used in carvings, beads, or cabochon cut gemstones. Nephrite is also the official state mineral of Wyoming.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mere (weapon)</span>

The mere is a type of short, broad-bladed weapon in the shape of an enlarged tear drop. It was used to strike/jab an opponent in the body or the head, usually made from nephrite jade. A mere is one of the traditional, hand to hand, one-handed weapons of the indigenous Māori of New Zealand, and a symbol of chieftainship.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bowenite</span>

Bowenite is a hard, compact variety of the serpentinite species antigorite, (Mg3(OH)O4Si2O5). Classed as semi-precious gemstone it has been used for tools, weapons and jewellery by the Māori in New Zealand, and for jewellery by Fabergé. Deposits are found in several places around the world including Afghanistan, China, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. It typically ranges in colour from dark green to light olive green, and in shades approaching yellow. Bowenite was named by James D. Dana in 1850 after George T. Bowen, who analyzed it in 1822.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sa Huỳnh culture</span>

The Sa Huỳnh culture was a culture in modern-day central and southern Vietnam that flourished between 1000 BC and 200 AD. Archaeological sites from the culture have been discovered from the Mekong Delta to Quảng Bình province in central Vietnam. The Sa Huynh people were most likely the predecessors of the Cham people, an Austronesian-speaking people and the founders of the kingdom of Champa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jade use in Mesoamerica</span>

The use of jade in Mesoamerica for symbolic and ideological ritual was highly influenced by its rarity and value among pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Olmec, the Maya, and the various groups in the Valley of Mexico. Although jade artifacts have been created and prized by many Mesoamerican peoples, the Motagua River valley in Guatemala was previously thought to be the sole source of jadeite in the region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chinese jade</span> Chinese jade mined/carved from the Neolithic on

Chinese jade refers to the jade mined or carved in China from the Neolithic onward. It is the primary hardstone of Chinese sculpture. Although deep and bright green jadeite is better known in Europe, for most of China's history, jade has come in a variety of colors and white "mutton-fat" nephrite was the most highly praised and prized. Native sources in Henan and along the Yangtze were exploited since prehistoric times and have largely been exhausted; most Chinese jade today is extracted from the northwestern province of Xinjiang.

Sierra de las Minas is a mountain range in eastern Guatemala, extending 130 km west of the Lake Izabal. It is 15–30 km wide and bordered by the valleys of the rivers Polochic in the north and the Motagua in the south. Its western border is marked by the Salamá River valley which separates it from the Chuacús mountain range. The highest peak is Cerro Raxón at 3,015 m. The Sierra's rich deposits of jade and marble have been mined throughout the past centuries. These small scale mining activities also explain the name of the mountain range.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greenstone (archaeology)</span>

Greenstone is a common generic term for valuable, green-hued minerals and metamorphosed igneous rocks and stones which early cultures used in the fashioning of hardstone carvings such as jewelry, statuettes, ritual tools, and various other artifacts. Greenstone artifacts may be made of greenschist, chlorastrolite, serpentine, omphacite, chrysoprase, olivine, nephrite, chloromelanite among other green-hued minerals. The term also includes jade and jadeite, although these are perhaps more frequently identified by these latter terms. The greenish hue of these rocks generally derives from the presence of minerals such as chlorite, hornblende, or epidote.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hardstone carving</span> Artistic carving of semi-precious stones or gems

Hardstone carving is a general term in art history and archaeology for the artistic carving of predominantly semi-precious stones, such as jade, rock crystal, agate, onyx, jasper, serpentinite, or carnelian, and for an object made in this way. Normally the objects are small, and the category overlaps with both jewellery and sculpture. Hardstone carving is sometimes referred to by the Italian term pietre dure; however, pietra dura is the common term used for stone inlay work, which causes some confusion.

<i>Jadeite Cabbage</i> Sculpture in the National Palace Museum, Taipei

The Jadeite Cabbage or Jadeite Cabbage with Insects is a piece of jadeite carved into the shape of a Chinese cabbage head, and with a locust and katydid camouflaged in the leaves. It is part of the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan.

The jade trade in Myanmar consists of the mining, distribution, and manufacture of jadeite—a variety of jade—in the nation of Myanmar (Burma). The jadeite deposits found in Myanmar's northern regions are the source of the highest quality jadeite in the world, noted by sources in China going as far back as the 10th century. Chinese culture places significant weight on the meaning of jade; as their influence has grown in Myanmar, so has the jade industry and the practice of exporting the precious mineral.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philippine jade culture</span> Archaeological culture in China

Philippine jade Culture or Jade Artifacts, made from white and green nephrite and dating as far back as 2000–1500 BC, have been discovered at a number of archeological excavations in the Philippines since the 1930s. The artifacts have been both tools like chisels, and ornaments such as lingling-o earrings, bracelets and beads.

Waipounamu Māori are a group of Māori iwi at or around the South Island of New Zealand. It includes the iwi (tribe) of Ngāi Tahu and the historical iwi of Kāti Māmoe, who occupy the island except for its most northern districts. It also includes Te Tau Ihu Māori iwi, such as Ngāti Toa, Te Atiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Rangitāne, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Kōata and Ngāti Tama.


Lingling-o or ling-ling-o, is a type of penannular or double-headed pendant or amulet that has been associated with various late Neolithic to late Iron Age Austronesian cultures. Most lingling-o were made in jade workshops in the Philippines, and to a lesser extent in the Sa Huỳnh culture of Vietnam, although the raw jade was mostly sourced from Taiwan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pounamu</span> Hard, green minerals in New Zealand culture

Pounamu is a term for several types of hard and durable stone found in southern New Zealand. They are highly valued in New Zealand, and carvings made from pounamu play an important role in Māori culture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yupei</span> Chinese jade pendant

Yupei is a generic term for jade pendants. Yupei were popular even before Confucius was born. Jade culture is an important component of Chinese culture, reflecting both the material and spiritual culture. Jade is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture and played a role in every aspect of social life; it is also associated with positive qualities and aspects such as purity, excellence, and harmony.Jade is even more valued than gold in Chinese culture. The history of the art of jade carving in China to make ornaments, including dress ornaments, extends back to before 5000 BC. Ancient Chinese held even greater importance to yupei after it was regarded as a moral integrity by Confucius. Yupei could be used as belt or waist ornaments and as necklaces which appeared as early as the Liangzhu culture. Strings of jade pendant are also used to decorate headwear, such as the mianguan.


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Further reading

Chinese name