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Gem of the month: May’s jade and its properties

Known for its light green hues and opaque, highly polished finish, jade is a semi-precious gem commonly worn in bracelets and rings and even used in other forms of ornamentation. It’s also the birthstone for the month of May. While it may not have as much notoriety as diamonds or rubies, it’s still a highly valued stone with an intriguing history and an array of reported metaphysical properties.

 

Appearance and physical properties

What we refer to as jade is actually the gemstone of two minerals: jadeite and nephrite. While these minerals are similar in appearance, they usually differ somewhat in their colouring. Jadeite can be found in a wide range of colours, while nephrite – the more common of the two – is usually seen in shades of green, cream and white. Jadeite is not as dense as nephrite, which is also the softer of the two minerals. Jade, whether it is jadeite or nephrite, is also usually mottled or multi-coloured, with solidly coloured stones being very rare.

 

Metaphysical and healing properties

Jade is recognised worldwide for a number of unique metaphysical properties and has been used as a tool for spiritual growth for centuries. Jade is said to promote peace and wisdom and has the ability to elevate human consciousness to higher levels.

Another property associated with jade is that of mental healing and balance. The mineral is highly renowned for its ability to alleviate anxiety and encourage inner peace and emotional calmness, which is done in part by protecting the stone’s wearer from negative vibrations and influences. Physically, jade is said to help heal conditions of the heart, kidneys, spleen, immune system and nervous system.

 

History

Jade has a rich history that dates back thousands of years, with people worldwide valuing it both for its physical beauty and the properties described above. During prehistoric times, the stone was carved and used as part of weaponry, jewellery, tools, and spiritual objects. Major ancient civilisations, including the Aztecs and the Mayans, also used jade, but it was the Chinese who really popularised the gemstone.

In the late 1700s, jade came to China by way of Burma (where much of the world’s supply is sourced). Chinese carvers realised the unique material in front of them and created artistic masterpieces that are recognised around the world as some of the finest. Since then, jade has remained associated with Chinese culture, even though people all around the world enjoy and treasure it.

 

Uses and value

While jade was used in the past as tools and parts of weapons, today its use is strictly ornamental. Jade is often turned into beads and worn as jewellery, or it serves as the centrepiece of rings, earrings, and necklaces. Solid jade bracelets are also popular, especially in Asian cultures, as are carvings of Buddha and animals.

In terms of worth, the value of jade is determined by three main factors: colour, transparency, and texture. Jade with a vivid, emerald green colour – called Imperial Jade – has the highest value, with lavender-hued stones ranking second. Semi-transparent jade with a smooth texture will also increase a stone’s worth.

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