Did You Know? Jade in the World

Jade has a rich history of folklore!

from The Bead Scoop Vol. II Issue 3 Sep 2008

Jade has been used for centuries and is prized for its unique green color and unbreakable durability. We see it used all over the world in jewelry, carvings, tools and ritual items.

There are two basic categories of jade: jadeite and nephrite. They are actually two completely different stones, but accidents of history resulted in the two being called “jade.” In addition to that confusion, there are countless materials passed off as jade that are actually other stones, glass, or plastic. Genrally, jade ranges in color from white to lavender to orange to green to black. It can be found in deposits all over the world and has charmed humans throughout history.

Below are some fun examples of the myths and folklore surrounding this treasured stone.

  • Chinese bridegrooms used to present carved jade butterflies to their brides as a symbol of love.
  • Newlyweds often drank together from a jade cup in confirmation of their vows.
  • It was believed that drinking powdered jade in water just before death would preserve the dead body from corruption.
  • Local Hotan custom had young maidens strip and walk naked in the rivers at night. Unclothed females (yin) would naturally attract the male (yang) jade and would have the best chances of finding pebbles of nephrite along the banks.
  • Mexican Indians believed jade would cure fever, gout and skull fractures, and would even resucitate the dying.
  • Nephrite means “kidney stone” and owes its name to the European belief that it could cure kidney diseases.
  • Nineteenth century physicians believed that jade tied to the arm or hip would expel kidney stones.
  • The word “jade” is derived from the Spanish piedra de ijada or “stone of the loins.”