Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: jade from Philip's Encyclopedia

Semi-precious silicate mineral of two major types: jadeite, which is often translucent; and nephrite, which has a waxy quality. Both types are extremely hard. Jade is found mainly in Burma and comes in many colours, most commonly green and white. Hardness 5-6; r.d. 3-3.4.

Summary Article: jade
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

common name for either of two minerals used as gems. The rarer variety of jade is jadeite, a sodium aluminum silicate, NaAl(SiO3)2, usually white or green in color; the green variety is the more valuable. The commoner and less costly variety of jade is nephrite, a calcium magnesium iron silicate of varying composition, white to dark green in color. Jade has been prized by the Chinese and Japanese, as well as by pre-Colombian Mesoamerican peoples, as the most precious of all gems. The Chinese in particular are known for the objets d'art they carve from it, and they traditionally associated it with the five cardinal virtues: charity, modesty, courage, justice, and wisdom; they also attributed healing powers to it. It was much used for implements by ancient peoples, especially in Mexico, Switzerland, France, Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor, and New Zealand. Jadeite is found in upper Myanmar, in Japan, and in Guatemala; nephrite in New Zealand, Turkistan, Siberia, China, Silesia, Wyoming, California, and British Columbia.

  • See Nott, S. C. , Chinese Jade throughout the Ages (2d ed. 1962);.
  • Gump, R. , Jade (1962);.
  • Hartman, J. M. , Chinese Jade of Five Centuries (1969, repr. 1987);.
  • Wills, G. , Jade of the East (1972);.
  • A. Levy; C. Scott-Clark, The Stone of Heaven (2002).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article Jade
Miller's Antiques Encyclopedia

Jade is intimately associated with China, where for millennia it has been prized even above gold, as a symbol of human virtue. Its smooth...

Full text Article jade
Word Origins

English has two words jade , of which by far the commoner nowadays is the name of the green stone [18]. Despite the mineral's close association...

Full text Article jade
The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Art and Artists

Properly the term refers only to nephrite, a silicate of lime and magnesia, but it is more often extended to include jadeite, a silicate of...

See more from Credo