In the same way that diamonds and gold are highly treasured in western society, jade stone is similarly regarded in Chinese culture as a reflection of strength, belief, and good fortune. To the Chinese, jade is also an embodiment of courage, goodness, wisdom—modesty and compassion.
For more than 8,000 years, the cultural significance of jade has played an important role as a spiritual symbol in Chinese history. In the early Western Zhou dynasty, jade was crafted and made into expensive and sophisticated objects—as well as amulets for spiritual substance due to its color, luster, and rigidity. Furthermore, ancient people regarded it as the king of stones that would bring blessing due to its rarity and uniqueness.
As literature and knowledge of the stone began to emerge, scholars wrote and sang praise deeming it the standard of virtue. Confucius wrote in the Book of Rites, “A gentleman’s virtue should be compared to jade,” embracing a profound philosophy that would be passed down through generations. People in these ancient civilizations believed that jade embodied five key spiritual aspects including humanity, righteousness, rite, wisdom, and credibility. And as China began to enter its glory days, the skills, craft, and art of jade began to scale new heights as developing countries flourished.
The Chinese value jade because of its brightness; representing heaven, and its substance which is representative of the earth. Each art piece that is created depends not only on a craftsman’s technique, but also on his ability to observe the beauty and specialty of each stone. In The Exploitation of the Works of Nature, there is a highly specialized process that explains the evaluation, exploration, dressing, and other such details of jade—which helped the Chinese people to realize important principles of life as it relates to the process of developing a stone.
According to The Exploitation of the Works of Nature, “Although jade has its precious quality than a stone, there is no different than a rubble if it’s without polish and refine.” . This idea translates to a meaning that in this world, each human being is special and unique—just as every jade stone is different from interior to exterior. However, only having been through trails and tribulations can each individual shine their light.
Today rare, high-grade jade stones can command thousands of dollars per ounce; and the meaning and belief inherited by jade is typically decorated more delicately with aesthetics. There is a Chinese saying that goes, “Gold value much, but jade is invaluable.” Each jade piece has its soul, and its worth is to be collected and handed down from age to age—and typically, estimating the value of a jade depends on its ‘Zhong’ and ‘Se’.
Zhong refers to the transparency of a stone, which is also called Shui Tou in expert term. On the other hand, Se refers a stones color and brightness. Jade has many different categories, with jadeite being the most precious and rare. Similar in hardness to quartz, it has colorful, stable physical properties, strong glossiness—along with a high refractive index, high density, and high rigidity. Most attractively, jadeite is known by its charming Asian green that presents an elegant, but simplistic taste.
In many aspects of traditional religion, jade is believed to have magnetism and spirituality. Therefore, Chinese people believe that wearing jade can turn bad luck into safety; and deter evil from happening. According to a senior Jade collector, Mrs. Lei from Yunnan, she deeply believes that buying and selling jade is influenced by fate. This kind of fate is similar to a story as it pulls a person in deeply at first—like peering into a jade stone; and then slowly calming them into a peaceful state as the story begins to unfold.
Scientifically speaking, jade contains special kinds of mineral substances. Thus, Chinese people believe that the relationship between the jade stone and human beings has mutual benefits. It is believed that wearing a jade bracelet can accelerate blood circulation and absorb the essence of microelements into the body as it rubs against the wrist—especially when it is worn on the left hand, as it is seen to have a direct connection to the heart. Enjoying and collecting jade is not merely done because of its beauty, but also because jade can be a blessing to people’s physical and mental health.
Jade is to a woman as lipstick is to makeup. It contains key symbolism to the Chinese culture, and adds further features such as confidence to Eastern women as it compliments their beauty. Perhaps it is fate, as well as the spiritual elements of jade, that links Chinese culture so closely with its past, present, and future.