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 Gemstones Of Australia
Nothing taken from the Earth gains in value so much for doing so little to it as a gemstone.

The History Of JADE

Jade is an ancient stone dating back in the Chinese civilisation to 5,000 BC. It is loved by the Chinese not only for it ’s beauty and durability but for it’s cultural significance and is as loved and treasured today as it has been throughout the history of China.

In China jade represents Virtue, Purity, Intelligence, Loyalty and Justice. Internally jade may be flawed but these interior flaws are believed to represent sincerity.

Chinese say... “Gold has a value.... Jade is invaluable”.

Throughout time jade, because of it’s toughness and durability has had a wide variety of uses from articles of adornment, household utensils to weapons such as axes and daggers.

There are two types of jade, Jadeite and Nephrite. Jadeite is a pyroxene with a chemical formula of Na(Al,Fe+++)Si2O6.

Nephrite is an amphibole, not a distinct species but a ‘variety’ of a mineral in the Ferro-actinolite/Tremolite series of minerals.

This being said, whilst testing can determine the composition of a mineral, Nephrite can be a difficult mineral (gem) to identify.

Iron rich Nephrite appears black. Our Australian Black Jade is as black as Nephrite can get and is virtually opaque, which is not a desirable feature of Jade in China. However, the Black Jade has been tested as being the same as Hetain Jade (Hetain Yu).

Hetain Yu is the standard jade that Chinese lapidaries seek for there processing. They look for translucency, even in black jade and the deeper you can see inside the gem with a strong light the more desirable is the piece.

Nephrite Jade is found in numerous countries but by far the largest deposit is at Cowell in South Australia.

The Cowell deposit has produced over 1,500 tonnes of rough boulders of Nephrite in a variety of shades of greens and in a variety of patterns. Cowell Jade has the potential to produce the largest pieces of Jade in the world with boulders up to 8 tonnes being mined in the past. The Cowell Jade Province stretches over several kilometres and has numerous visible outcrop.

Because Nephrite is a, variety, as opposed to a species, it can be difficult to resolve issues when dealing with the gem in China. The X-Ray pattern can be identical to patterns of Hetain Yu but some testing laboratories will not give a certificate determining the material as Nephrite. A determining factor is a visual observation relating to the microcrystalline nature of the material in question. This cannot be tested.

Jadeite, being a distinct species can be tested and proven to be Jadeite and there is no such difficulty as is encountered with naming a gem 'Nephrite'.