China’s Stone of Heaven. Two materials with one name—a grand 5,000-year-history as China’s most revered material—and gems often priced higher than diamonds. Jade is all that and more. It has a well-documented history longer than almost any other gemstone. And it has value throughout Asia beyond what most Westerners can appreciate.
When jadeite reaches fine levels of color, clarity, and translucency, it sells for as much or more than diamonds or emeralds. Because of historical accidents (all explained in the Ward’s new jade book), two different materials, nephrite and jadeite, are known to the world as jade.
Nephrite, China’s long revered Stone of Heaven, is also the jade of New Zealand’s Maori Tiki figures and other native sculptures. Used mainly for carving over thousands of years, today’s nephrite is relatively inexpensive. Available in a variety of colors, nephrite is the toughest material found in nature. China built its culture around nephrite. The emperor spoke to heaven (or God) using a jade disc. A contest’s first-place winner received jade; gold went to second place. Confucius equated the qualities of nephrite to the qualities of a scholar and a gentleman.
Many exciting nephrite objects are made from the unprecedented deposits in Canada’s British Columbia, now the world’s largest jade supplier. Much of the nephrite becomes sculptures, some beads and cabochons for jewelry. There are also numerous exciting possibilities, such as jade tables, bookends, and other very large objects. Enormous jade Buddhas attract viewers around the world. Carvers seek nephrite from Big Sur, California, Wyoming, the Yukon, and Washington.
Jadeite is a relative newcomer to the world’s jewelry scene, but is almost universally what people think of when they hear the word “jade.” Historically, Mesoamerican cultures, Mayan, Olmec, Aztec, Toltec, and Zapotec, regarded jadeite as their most precious material. They fashioned their finest masks and elaborate stone carvings from jadeite. In the late 18th century the Burmese discovered jadeite and introduced it to China, and thus to the world. China’s imperial court was enthralled with jadeite”s brilliant colors and superb polish. Almost instantly, jadeite used for both carvings and for jewelry surpassed all other things as objects of desire in China.
Usually we think of jadeite as green, a green that can rival the color of emeralds. But like nephrite, jadeite also comes in a variety of other colors, from black to red, orange, yellow, lavender, white. Bright, clear, intense green jadeite is the most expensive of all jade. Fine Burmese jadeite, cut in China or Hong Kong, finds its most receptive market in Asia. The second most expensive color is bright deep lavender. All collectors seek the unusual. There is even a unique jadeite named “Galactic Gold,” a rare find in Guatemala. Careful chemical analysis has revealed that this rich black material is laced with colorful precious metal inclusions.
Best overall book on geology and mineral exploration I have seen during my 40 years as à geologist who is interested in minerals. This takes you beyond just general discussion offered by other texts
Wonderful book,it is so nice to get a book with lots of info and picture's.
As a man living in China and passionate about jade it is a pleasure to come across a small book like this packed with so much information. There are many books in Chinese about jade but very few in the English language worth reading. This book is definitely one of them.
This edition of the Jade book is so beautifully written that the words compete with the photographs--which are as usual for this series--awesome! I generally find the text of such books heavy and hard to understand. However, I was drawn into this book at its opening by the tone of mystery, history and human lust for ownership. What a great way to entice the reader into the journey through jade's composition, artistic evolution, and reflection of geographic differences. Certainly, this book is a fresh look at what is going on in the world of jade in all its variations. In this 2015 edition, the history of jade as a source of beauty and wonder is explained in an elegant, yet understandable narrative. Anyone who owns some jade or admires jade will savor this reference book as their personal guide to understanding jade's history, variations, purchasing process and care guidelines. I believe that this books is the perfect complement to a gift or personal purchase of jade.
I received this book as a gift. The cover, with its exquisite jade lily pendant, immediately drew me in. The authors, Fred and Charlotte Ward, take us around the world to share how jade is inextricably linked with different cultures—even revered. The book is replete with beautiful, color photos. If you travel, get Jade to prepare for a trip or take it with you. It is lightweight with informative, concise narrative. You can dip into a section—from China, to Guatemala, to New Zealand, to the U.S. and more. It gave me new appreciation for items I bought not long ago at a Beijing jade factory, and at Panjiayuan, the Dirt Market. Like the stone, this book is a beautiful, polished gem.
By now there are many excellent books on the fascinating subject of jade. But it would be hard to find one as informative, entertaining, and beautifully produced as this one.
Fred and Charlotte Ward have been praised for their Gem Series of compact volumes exploring the history, lore, and significance of diamonds, rubies and sapphires, emeralds, opals, and pearls. Their jade volume first appeared in 1996, around the time that Mr. Ward published in National Geographic magazine what is probably the finest “popular” article on jade ever written. This latest revised edition contains much new information and up-to-date photographs.
The story of jade is covered from pre-history all the way up to today’s top carvers. The confusing story of how jade was named— it is in fact two different stones— is well explained. Of course China— where jade has been revered for millennia as the Stone of Heaven— receives an early and thorough discussion. The rebirth of jade carving in China is also well covered. But other worldwide jade cultures are not ignored. The ancient Meso-American jade culture is thoroughly treated. The Olmec, especially, were master jade carvers, and there is tantalizing speculation about possible links with contemporaneous Chinese jade working thousands of miles away.
Australian, Russian, and Maori (New Zealand) jade also receive a chapter each, along with jade from USA and Canadian sources. Canada is now the world’s largest jade supplier. Maori jade is particularly fascinating as those native carvers had no access at all to metal tools. Some of the finest and most creative jade carving taking place today is produced by New Zealand carvers, well illustrated in the book.
The Wards conclude with a few pages on buying and caring for jade. Their warning that “confusion, deception, and fraud are common” in the world of jade should be taken seriously.
This is a book you will enjoy reading and will keep for reference, even if you already own an earlier edition. You will also want to give copies to friends who love jades and jewelry.
In bringing us JADE, the latest in his illuminating Gem Series, Fred Ward and his wonderful wife and partner Charlotte Ward have accomplished an extraordinary feat. They have enlightened a subject, vast and ancient, with a book that's short and sweet.
While paying deep respect to this primal material and its traditions, some as deep as time itself, they have succeeded at the same time in opening our eyes to the best and brightest of today's Jade sculptors.
In this reviewer's opinion, there is no better balanced primer to set a searcher on the path to discover the past, present and future of this wondrous stone than Fred and Charlotte Ward's JADE.