Also popularly known as “pounamu” or “greenstone”, Nephrite or New Zealand Jade is regarded as an important element of the Maori culture. Though often used as ornaments and for making traditional jewelry, it may interest you to know that the New Zealand Jade was also used for making traditional weapons and tools. Treasured items that are made of this material are also passed on as heirlooms and given as gifts after concluding important agreements.
According to scientific records, the Jade in New Zealand was formed by the heat and pressure on the ocean bed dating back 2300 million years ago. This beaut and gem made its way to the surface (high into the mountains) some 10 million years ago following the formation of the popular Southern Alps — which explains why the gem is only found in the southern island of New Zealand.
However, over time, erosion transported boulders to remote valleys and streams via glaciers and rivers.
How to identify the different types of Jade
Since the discovery of Jade in New Zealand, it has been used to manufacture various beautiful objects like pendants. However, a lot of work has gone into improving its appearance. Over the years, heat, dye, polymer injection, wax, and bleach, among other treatments, have been used to improve the appearance — color, luster, and stability. Commercial objects are grouped into three types based on the type of treatment they underwent. They are classified as Type A, Type B, and Type C. And as we mentioned earlier, the highest quality of New Zealand Jade is the imperial, and it costs more per carat than even high-quality diamonds.
This class is treated with wax, and even though wax treatment is regarded as the most traditional treatment, it is acceptable by buyers because it doesn’t impact the value of the object. The idea is to fill surface irregularities with wax and give it a smooth and lustrous finish.
Type B is treated with hydrochloric or sulphuric acid. The acid removes stains while also leaching out sodium. Thereby lightening the color of the material. However, there are concerns about acid treatment making Jadeite brittle and becoming discolored with time (or exposure to heat and sunlight.) For this reason, it’s best practice for Type B treated to be disclosed at the point of sales.
Last but not least, Type C undergoes the same treatment as Type B. However, in this case, the object is dyed to achieve the desired color. Similar to Type B, Type C also has the tendency to fade with exposure to heat and light.
What are the uses of New Zealand Jade?
Rounding off on types of this stone and treatment, here are common uses of New Zealand Jade. They can be used for making pendants, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, beads, tumbled stone, and a long list of other objects.
They are also used to make sculptures, religious arts, and ornaments. It is also worth mentioning that one must be mindful of the source of New Zealand Jade because there are chances that you may be dealing with a gimmick who will sell another material to you in place of the gem that you are after.
Common materials that can be cut and polished and easily confused as this precious stone include Serpentine, Chalcedony, Vesuvianite, Maw Sit Sit, Aventurine, and Hygrossular Garnet. Factors to consider while valuing Jade include color, transparency and texture, and the type of cut (cabochons or round beads.) This will ensure that you receive the highest quality product and one that you are satisfied with.