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Eurojade - Le Spécialiste du Jade - The Jade Specialist


Jade is a handsome gemstone once more precious to man than gold. Only two kinds of stone – jadeite and nephrite – were originally recognized as true jade. But demand, fashion and financial considerations have resulted in several similar rock compounds or silicates often selling as jade. Science identifies true jade as either a silicate of sodium and aluminum (jadeite) or a silicate of calcium and magnesium (nephrite). Both are the products of great heat and pressure over millions of years deep in the earth at some twentyl ocations around the world. Doubtless, other deposits await discovery. Some, like the mother load of America’s Mayan culture, are yet to be rediscovered. 

China is generally recognized as the first culture to revere jade. More than 5000 years ago people from the Kunlun Mountains traded local jade through the city of Hotan on the fabled silk route. Marco Polo, the world’s first true globetrotter, witnessed this in 1272, giving him the distinction of being the first European known to observe Chinese jade being collected at source.  The industry Polo studied had already resulted in the production of carvings still recognized as pinnacles of style and complexity.

Not far behind China and possibly even contemporaneously, communities West of Lake Bakail in Siberia were utilising jade, not for its beauty as in China, but for the ability to stay sharp. An important requirement for any implement of daily life. Switzerland too was capitalising on jade’s special qualities around this time. Of, course the area adjacent to Lake Konstanz was probably nameless back in 3500 BC, but a "stilt house culture" in the region used jade axes to chop wood and kill prey.

Next recorded regular jade users where the Olmec of Central America. From around 1500 BC they were fashioning implements and items of worship from jade, among other materials. Their jade deposits were also to serve the later Maya until about 900 BC and following them, the Aztec. This latter culture too treasured jade until decimated by the Spanish, whose primary interest lay in gold. With their demise went knowledge of the location of their jade-rich sources. By that time, Maori had been resident in New Zealand for nearly 500 years where they were developing an understanding of and reverence for jade rivaling that of China.