Jadeite, or its more common name ‘jade’, was highly prized by the Mayans and Aztecs. Jade was considered very precious in many ancient societies, often worth more than gold, and many pieces of jewellery and ornamental carvings have been made from jade throughout history.
Its name originates from the Spanish ‘piedra de ijada’, meaning ‘stone for the pain in the side’, as Central American natives used to hold pieces of jade to their side in the belief that it could cure illness. It is referred to as ‘Yu’ by the Chinese, which means ‘heavenly’ or ‘imperial’. It was first mined in North Eastern China around 6000 BC.
In 1863 it was discovered that there were actually two forms of jade: jadeite and nephrite. These two forms are almost identical, although scientifically they are different. Jadeite is considered the rarer and the most valuable form of jade. The most common colour for both forms of jade is pale green.