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A Glimpse Into The History Of Jade In Chinese Jewelry

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February 05, 2021

Jade was regarded as the most precious stone in ancient China, and a fine cut of this gem can go for about the same price per carat as a diamond in the United States.

Modern uses for Jade in Western countries have become increasingly popular in skincare and even for supposedly improving sexual wellness.

However, this precious gemstone has a much deeper cultural and historical significance in China. It is associated with purity and moral integrity, and the finest cuts are highly valued.

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The History Of Jade

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Jade has been an integral part of Chinese civilization from the earliest days. Uses of the gemstone in Ancient China included ornamental, as in furnishings, decorations, and jewelry.

Not only that but also practical purposes and has even been found to have been used to make tools in prehistoric times. By 3000BC, Jade was regarded as the royal gem or yu.

Importance Of Jade

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"Its color represents loyalty; its interior flaws, always showing themselves through the transparency, call to mind sincerity; its iridescent brightness represents heaven; its admirable substance, born of mountain and of water, represents the earth. Used alone without ornamentation it represents chastity. The price that the entire world attaches to it represents the truth."

Confucius' writing in the Li Ji (Book of Rites) as cited by "Thought Co".

The stone had a profound meaning beyond it's aesthtical value. It has a immeasurable social value, hence the Chinese Proverb, "gold has a value; jade is invaluable." 

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What Is Jade?

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According to" Visual Capitalist", there are two types of jade that come from different yet similar ornamental rocks. The two types, nephrite, and jadeite are both held with high regard but for different reasons.

Nephrite was the very first jade found in China. All original deposits are said to be depleted. Jadeite on the other hand is a denser stone and is the most traded of the two variations.

Jade Objects

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Jade has had multiple uses across the ages. The British Museum houses several historical objects made from the stone, like ritual cups and the bi. This was a circular disk of unknown function often found wrists of the decease, according to "Ancient History Encyclopedia".

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Jade is now used for ornaments, sculptures, chopsticks, sheaths to protect long fingernails, belt buckles, and even small items of furniture.

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The Value Of Jade

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"When I think of a wise man, his merits appear to be like jade."

"Book of Odes"

The cultural significance of jade is viewed so highly. There are even stories about the gemstone like famous tales of "He Shi Zhi Bi" ("Mr. He and His Jade" or "He's Jade Disc") and "Wan Bi Gui Zhao" ("Jade Returned Intact to Zhao").

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