Founding Biography

Jadeite Jade was discovered approximately 3,000 years ago by an early Mesoamerican culture, The Olmecs. They became expert lapidary artists and carved jade into beautiful statues, ceremonial ornaments and objects for their rituals.  Their descendants, The Maya, used it as ornaments and jewelry for nobles and priests.  Other cultures such as the Aztecs continued to work jade, up until the time of the Spanish Conquest.

The Ancient Maya, builders of large cities, extensive traders and astronomers who developed a very accurate calendar, also revered jade as their most important possession.  Only the very wealthy and powerful could afford to wear jade both in this life and in the after life. 

The love for jade and the knowledge of its source was lost to the Americas at the time of the Spanish conquest. The Spaniards subjugated the ancient cultures and influenced them to value what the conquerors valued – gold.  o for more than 400 years, jade was forgotten in the Americas. 

In 1974 after studying the work of Foshag and Leslie, the Ridinger family found a large outcropping of fine jadeite in Guatemala. Scattered on the surface were some of the original jade working tools. After assaying this stone and testing some of the museum jades, it was proven that this jade outcropping in Guatemala had been the source of many pre-Columbian jade objects. JADE MAYA™ was formed and began to mine work and train native Guatemalans once again in the fine art of jade carving.

The source discovered by archaeologist Mary Lou Ridinger and her husband Jay Ridinger in 1974, is the same used by the Maya people of Mesoamerica. The jade is cut and polished in our factory by native Guatemalan workers who follow the carving traditions of their ancestors. Our company has evolved as a leader in reintroducing Maya jade to the world through the discovery, mining and working of Guatemala's fine jadeite jade.