Thursday, April 19, 2007


This is not a simple tale to tell. The story of Jade is the story of two very different, yet quite similar gemstones. So similar, that it took over 5,000 years to realize our error.

For centuries Nephrite and Jadeite were considered to be the same stone, Jade. Not until 1863, when a French mineralogist demonstrated the chemical differences between the two gems, was any distinction made.

Both are aluminum silicates; Nephrite contains calcium magnesium and Jadeite includes sodium. Varying amounts of iron are present in both stones. The term Jade, comes from a spanish phrase "piedra de hijada", which means "stone of the loins" and was believed to be excellent medicine for the kidneys.

In an effort to simplify the information (I learned a lot researching this geological puzzle), we'll review Nephrite and Jadeite in separate articles. Jadeite in the next issue, and the more ancient Nephrite in this article.

Nephrite Jade was the original Jade so honored and treasured by the Chinese. However, Nephrite's ancient history is not limited to the Chinese culture. All over the world this extremely tough, yet soft mineral was popular as a material for fashioning tools. The huge numbers of axes, knives and other instruments found worldwide, carved from this gemstone, has given it the nickname Axe-stone.

Nephrite comes from a Greek word, nephros, which, coincidentally, means kidney. While this gemstone rarely forms in a crystal structure, under a microscope, it becomes obvious that the composition is actually that of millions of intertwined monoclinic crystals. These crystals are exactly the same as the Actinolite (some references say that Nephrite is Actinolite), except they have been pressed into a compact, fibrous mass. A few theories conjecture that the pressure needed to create this type of formation came from glaciers moving through Europe and around the world following the Ice Age.

The gemstone forms in huge blocks, and is found frequently as boulders and pebbles in rivers. The largest polish piece of Nephrite is in the Mineral Gallery of the British Museum of Natural History and weighs 1,156 pounds! Raw pieces found in the wild can easily weigh 1,000 pounds before cutting.

Iron is the major influence of color in Nephrite Jades. Normally the gem is found in varying shades of green, from a grayish green to the most sought after emerald greens. Occasionally it will be found in yellows, browns and in rare instances, black or white. It is often found with white streaks of Magnesite across the surface and can contain minute amounts of lime and soda.

Nephrite is found in China, Canada, US, the Alps, Taiwan, Russia, India, Germany and New Zealand. The Moari tribes of New Zealand carved Hei Tiki from the gem. These ancestral carvings were believed to protect them from disease and attack and were used in special ceremonies.

Nephrite is the type of Jade used in ancient Chinese carvings and medicine. They believed this gem would preserve the physical body after death. One emperor's tomb contained a whole suit constructed of Jade. It was also valued as a stone of love and virtue, often considered a symbol of status. The rare whites were the most treasured of the Nephrite colors.

When Jadeite was discovered in nearby Burma during the mid 1700's, the Chinese dismissed it as an inferior stone, often lacking the darker greens found in Nephrite. They would refer to it as that "kingfisher stone".

Though Nephrite Jades was used extensively as a tool by early Europeans, it was not until the Portuguese and Marco Polo began opening trade routes, that it became a decorative gem outside China.

The history of Jade as a power stone is as muddled as its geological history. Only two of my personal metaphysical references made any distinction between Nephrite and Jadeite (Melody and Maya Heath). With the help of a Nephrite specimen I've been carrying this week, I hope that I've manage to cull out the information that is specific to this gemstone.

Information from the Chinese on Nephrite's power is actually very reliable, since this was the stone they held in high esteem for several millennia. A butterfly carved from Jade (Nephrite) was often worn to attract love, it was also a common engagement gift from a man to a woman. Men would present a statue of two men carved from the stone to bond their friendship.

Dishes for food and drink were often carved from Jade. The gem was believed to prolong life and that substances contained in those vessels would absorb that energy. Talismans of bats, storks, and bears were carved to promote a healthier, longer life.

You can also utilize this life-giving energy in protective medicine. Nephrite will help you maintain alertness, so that you can avoid accidents caused by inattention. Or wear one in a Spirit Pouch for assistance from your ancestors (as the Maori did) when needed. The iron inclusions make this a wonderful stone for balancing and aligning your base Chakra and opening your heart Chakra.

Are you stuck in a tense, uncompromising situation at work or home? Use a Nephrite in meditation to help find common ground for both parties. This stone will also promote a more unified environment so you may accomplish compromise. If your life is a series of one disaster after another, this Jade can assist in removing harmful energies and increasing beneficial ones.
It is also great for balancing male/female energies and for creating more balance in your relationship. Use a Nephrite Jade with other stones or store one with your magickal tools. It has an extremely powerful "blessing" energy, enhancing other gems, crystals and objects that come in contact. If you do healing work, you may want to keep a Nephrite Jade around for a quick meditation after each session. The stone provides an wonderful boost of energy that will revive you.

Nephrite has long been associated with healthy kidneys and other internal organs. It can also provide rejuvenating energies to give you new strength after a long illness or emotional trauma. The gem may increase white blood cells to help fight off dangerous organisms that attack your body. It will regulate your metabolism and provides women with relief from PMS, childbirth, and physical violence against our sexuality. If you have been a victim of rape or domestic violence, the loving energies of this stone will not only assist you in recovering from the emotional trauma, but will prevent the onset of traumatic illnesses that stress can cause.
In the next issue of ORE FEATURES, we'll review Jadeite.


The Drifter said...

thank you! i have been trying to find out which of the two was used for treating the kidneys. Now i know for sure it's nephrite.

The Drifter said...

thank you! i have been trying to find out which of the two was used for treating the kidneys. Now i know for sure it's nephrite.