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"10 Things You Should Know..."

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Cameo Jewelry Articles



by Preston Reuther Master Wire Sculptor 


Jade is mysterious and magical, jewelry inlaid with jade is the stuff legends are made of. One of these legends is that the Spanish conquerors wore amulets of jade to prevent or cure hip and kidney complaints. Jade is often referred to as the Stone of Heaven by the Chinese and used to gain insight into their culture and history.

It is considered a symbolic link between man and the spiritual world. The word Jade (derived from the 16th century Spanish name "la piedra de la ijada" or "stone for the loins") seems to evoke feelings of mystery, romance, and wealth. Owners tend to develop an emotional attachment for this substance. Since the value of jade is determined by its scarcity, it is no wonder it is commonly faked by using less valuable substitutes that are passed off as jade.

While scrupulous dealers would never dream of tricking their buyers, less honorable sellers get away with such practices by the labels they attach to their imitations. The following is a list of some of them:

Imperial Mexican Jade

 Mexican Jade

American Jade

Californite Jade

Green Indian Jade 

Aventurine Amazon Jade

Colorado Jade 

Korean Jade 

New Jade

Color is the most important value factor but translucency, texture, and pattern are also considered when selecting specimens. There are two kinds of jade:

#1. The less expensive Nephrite and the opulent Jadeite. Ancient jade, carved in China, was of the Nephrite variety; since it's more common than jadeite jade, it's most often used in the Chinese carvings you see today. Nephrite is an amphibolite mineral. This type of jade comes in various shades of green but most have an olive green tint. Nephrite comes from Myanmar, Russia, Australia, Taiwan, China, and Wyoming. The word nephrite comes from the Greek word for kidney. So, maybe the Spanish knew something we didn't, eh?

#2. Jadeite is a pyroxene mineral and is considered to be very good in a designer setting of gold or silver. It commands much higher prices than nephrite because it comes in much more vivid colors and has a finer translucency than nephrite jade. Items made from this hard jade are smooth and lustrous and their grains are not visible. It's much more rare than nephrite jade and is known as imperial jade. Jadeite jade is produced in Burma, which is now known as Myanmar. Also found in, Japan, Alaska, California, and small quantities in Guatemala. This kind of jade comes in a wide variety of colors including red, yellow, green, lilac, black, orange, white, pink, blue, and brown.



Both types of jade are very durable although jadeite is slightly harder due to its microcrystalline structure. Jadeite has a hardness value of 7.0 (occasionally as high as 8 or 9), whereas nephrite jade has a hardness value of 6.5. Because the raw materials are getting more and more scarce, the value of jade will continue to rise.

Jade is the state gemstone of Alaska and Wyoming and the Canadian state gemstone of British Columbia. Jade is treasured in China as the royal gemstone. The Chinese character for Jade resembles a capital 'I' with a line across the middle. The top represents the heavens, the bottom represents the earth ,and the center section represents mankind. The word "yu" in Chinese is applied to things considered precious.

Carving jade has been an important part of Chinese arts and crafts for more than 6,000 years. Crude jade tools have been found among the archaeological finds dating back to the New Stone Age. As time passed, however, people started appreciating jade as something beautiful to look at, as well as useful for its hardness, and began making carvings and polishing them.

Since then, jade has become the preferred material for oriental carvings. Symbolism is a tradition in Chinese art. Recurrent motifs in jade objects have significant meanings to the Chinese. Designs found on jade objects have either religious or sociological connotations. Sometimes carvings depicted the social status of intended owners of the pieces by their opulence and other times items were carved to indicate the occupation of the person they were being made for.

jade jewelry 

One of the most common carvings is a flat, donut-shaped disc called a "pi", which is worn as a necklace. The circular hole in the middle symbolizes the earth with its circumference representing heaven. The "tsung" is a column that is round on the inside and square on the outside. The outside symbolizes earth and the hole through the center is a vehicle for heavenly energies to pass through.

Many jade items are used for jewelry or ceremonial pieces. Other common objects made from jade include belt buckles, hair ornaments, animal statues, vases, incense burners, cups, and wine decanters. Dragons and phoenixes were usually carved for nobility. One of the most popular symbols to carve from jade is the sacred image of Buddha. Another is the Quan Yin, the equivalent of the female Buddha. (It's believed that when a Quan Yin is placed in a room it has the ability to cleanse the environment of any unpleasant energy, especially after an argument has taken place.)

Dragons are the symbol of rain, fertility, and male vigor and are considered to be good-natured and gentle. Jade is the mystical birthstone for March, the alternative birthstone for August, and the birthstone for the astrological sign of Virgo. It's the anniversary gemstone for the 12th, 30th, and 35th years of marriage. Jade is a symbol of love, virtue, fidelity, humility, generosity (concentrated essence of love), and is used as a status symbol.

It is believed to induce relaxation and concentration. It's been said that jade helps bring things into balance and promotes health, wealth, and longevity. Some say when jade is handled, the virtue of it is absorbed into the body. Jade is said to help us understand our dreams and to live in harmony with the laws of nature.

In Central America the Olmecs, Mayans, and the Toltecs all treasured jade and used it for carvings. Jade is believed to be strong medicine for kidney ailments, lung problems, to boost the immune system, aid in detoxification, and to calm the nervous system. No matter what jade is, or is not, it sure is a hit at most jewelry shows!


Preston Reuther is a Master Wire Sculptor that has been designing jade jewelry for over 20 years. He has written over 1000 articles on the art of making designer wire jewelry, produced several e books, created over 35 jewelry videos, published over 3000 jewelry tips and published over 3000 articles on wire jewelry and it’s metal. All in the last 20 years. Visit his jade jewelry collection at:  or contact him 816-689-2779. ********************************************


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