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Jade is one of the most important gemstones of all time. It has symbolized the highest level of preciousness, more than diamonds or gold, in many ancient cultures. It has been especially revered among the Ancient Maya and in China and Southeast Asia. To this day, fine jade is iconic to Chinese people. It is common for most
Chinese or East Asian people who can afford a piece of Jade to wear an amulet around their neck on a chord or a bangle on their wrist, which is carved out of a solid piece of Jade. These pieces are almost never taken off and are believed to bring luck and good health. Some believe that the Jade becomes greener over time, as the precious stone absorbs sickness from the body.
Jade ranges enormously in value, depending on type, color and treatment. Valuing jade is made more difficult because different cultures value different characteristics, hence a piece of Jade may fetch a price 5 times higher in China than in the USA and vice versa.
The word jade is actually used to refer to 2 distinct materials – Jadeite and Nephrite. Nephrite was used by the Chinese for about 7000 years, whereas jadeite became used in about the 18th century. Therefore, authentic antique jade pieces are always nephrite. However, these days jadeite is much more highly valued and more popular. All else being equal, a piece of jadeite will fetch a much higher price than a piece of jadeite.