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Jade is by far, one of the oldest and sought after gemstones on the planet. It is found on nearly every continent and has played an integral role in the shaping of ancient cultures. Today, it is as precious and valuable as it was one thousand years ago.
The gemstone is formed in subduction zones around the globe. Subduction happens when two tectonic plates smash together and overlap. The plate that is forced down takes its minerals into the depths of the Earth, where the temperature and the pressure are right for creating jade. The mineral is then mined. The dangerous task of excavating the gemstone takes place the world over, China, India, New Zealand, Canada, Siberia, North and Central America at one time or another had mines solely for jade.
There are two types of jade: nephrite, from the Greek word nephros , which means "kidney," and jadeite, which is the green type of jade most people are familiar with. Nephrite jade, when pure, is white. Our English word for jade is derived from the Spanish, "piedra de ijada" or loin stone. This correlates to many ancient cultures belief that jade stones helped alleviate the ailments of the loins and kidneys. But it was simply used for crystal therapy. Jade was crafted for weapons, such as spears and axes, but more so as jewelry and ornamentation.
The stone is classified into several categories. Polar Jade is from the Polar mines in northern Canada, Chrome Jade is specked with brilliant traces of green, Chatoyat has a tiger eye like effect in it, Bortyoidal or Bubble Jade, is shaped like clumps of grapes, and Vulcan Jade is covered with a golden brown skin, found exclusively in California.
The art of jade polishing has been practiced for thousands of years. The mineral is harder than steel and cannot be sculpted; rather, it is ground and then polished to create the beautiful beads and designs we have come to appreciate. The initial grounding of jade is done wet. The stone must be submerged when ground; It gives off a harmful dust that is comparable to asbestoses. A diamond or silicone carbide is used to do the grounding. When the grinding has reached the artists ideal "grit," it is polished using techniques and compounds that are guarded closely by the artist. This technique has been passed down through the generations and has helped create some of the most appeasing designs known to human eyes.
It might not be plausible and affordable for you to own jade jewelry. But there are alternatives. Faux jade is an acceptable substitute to the outrageously priced gemstone. If purchased from a wholesaler, jade beads and pendants can be used to create precious jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets. Craftwork is a soothing process and is a hobby that can be readily displayed. With faux jade there's no reason to hesitate on experimentation, creating whatever you can imagine.
Jade is still used today to create art that is ubiquitously loved and praised for its elegance and wonder. Most recently it was used to help design the 2008 Summer Olympic medals; the first non-metallic to ever be used. Jade is one of the few gemstones to be held with the same loft that it was thousands of years ago. Its beauty is renowned and desired across the globe.