What is Jade?

Jade is a term used to describe two different types of minerals that are highly prized for their ornamental and symbolic value. These two types of jade are nephrite and jadeite, and they have some distinct differences:

  • Jadeite Jade: Jadeite is the rarer and more valuable type of jade. It is composed of sodium and aluminum silicate minerals, it is classified as a Pyroxene, and is known for its vibrant green color, ranging from a pale, almost translucent green to a deep emerald green. It also occurs in lavender, black, white and different shades of blue. Jadeite is generally considered to be of higher quality than nephrite and is often used for fine jewelry and high-end carvings. The most prized jadeite is known as 'Imperial Green Jade', which is an intense green color with excellent translucency and minimal imperfections. The jade found in Guatemala is Jadeite Jade.

  • Nephrite Jade: Nephrite is the more common type of jade and has been used for thousands of years in various cultures around the world. It is composed of calcium and magnesium silicate minerals and is typically found in shades of green, although it can also appear in white, gray, or brown. Nephrite is known for its toughness and durability, making it suitable for carving into intricate designs and sculptures.

Both types of jade are superficially similar, but are quite different in terms of mineralogical characteristics. They both have cultural and spiritual significance in various parts of the world, and they are associated with qualities like purity, longevity, and prosperity. Jade has been used in jewelry, religious artifacts, and traditional artwork for centuries and continues to be highly valued today. In summary, jade is a term used to describe two distinct minerals, nephrite and jadeite, both of which are prized for their beauty, durability, and cultural significance.

Jade History

Jade has a long history of more than 3,000 years in Mesoamerica, the area covered by the countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.  Ancient civilizations appreciated the jadeite jade stones as ornaments, tools, and burial artifacts.

The first civilization to use jadeite jade were the Olmecs, Maya and Aztecs, and jade figured prominently in many myths and folktales. This stone is reputed to bring beauty and long life to the wearer. Some Eastern traditions insist that it also brings wealth and good fortune. 

A diamond saw cutting Jade

A diamond is a beautiful stone with which to cut Jade.

JADE MAYA is a totally integrated jade company founded in 1974 by archaeologist Mary Lou Ridinger and her husband Jay Ridinger. We mine fine jadeite jade, which is found mainly in Guatemala and Burma, but valued throughout the world.

The sources discovered and used by JADE MAYA are the same used by the Maya people of Mesoamerica. The jade is cut and polished in our factory by local Guatemalan artisans who follow the carving traditions of their ancestors.