‘JADE’ is a generic term which describes two different silicate rocks, ‘Jadeite’, which is classified as a Pyroxene, and ‘Nephrite’, which is classified as an Amphibole. Though superficially similar, they are quite different in terms of their mineralogical characteristics. Jadeite is the harder and denser of the two, and possesses a rich and brilliant range of colors. Nephrite is a carving quality stone, found in many places of the world. Guatemalan jade is jadeite.
Nephrite and Jadeite are both white in their pure state. All colors of jade (from light greens to black) are created by natural slight inclusions of other minerals or metals such as chromium, copper, cobalt and titanium.
Because of its rarity, jadeite is the most precious form of jade. It was also highly prized by the ancient Maya kings and Chinese emperors. During the colonial period, Spaniards described jade as “piedra de ijada” (stone for the loins or kidneys) and over time, the word “ijada” became “jade”.
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.
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.