Jade is a metamorphic rock—produced by intense pressure and heat—that is commonly used in jewelry. This ornamental stone comes in a range of colors from white to black. However, translucent emerald-green-colored jade is the most prized and highly valued. Historically, stones and jewels have cultural meanings beyond their physical beauty. Black jade is no exception. Here, the history, uses and traditions of black jade will be explored.
History of Jade
Jade was commonly used in ancient China and other countries and has been recovered in artifacts. The ancient Chinese believed that breathing air through jade would lead to a long life, and used jade in the construction of pipes. Green jade later became known as the imperial or prized form of jade for furnishings, figurines and other objects. China’s historical affinity for jade in daily life and trade is comparable to the Western attraction to gold.
As noted, jade can come in a variety of colors including green, white, lavender, brown, red, orange and black. The amount of iron oxide and magnesium present in jade dictates its color. For example, jade with a high magnesium content will likely appear white. Conversely, black jade possesses significant iron oxide content (as much as 8 percent). Black jade is essentially a dark version of a multi-colored stone.
It bears noting that black is not a color at all, but the absorption of all color, an aspect that perhaps lends to the sense of this rock as a symbol of power.
Types of Jade Stones
Nephrite and jadeite are the two forms of black jade found throughout the world. Black jade nephrite is the most common variety of black jade and can be found in the U.S. in California and Wyoming. Black jadeite is harder than nephrite and more rare, but can be found in Burma and Guatemala. As a result, black jadeite is more expensive than black jade nephrite.
Meaning and Significance
Many people fail to realize that jade comes in more colors than green. In fact, the different colors of jade each have their own meaning or "properties." For example, black jade is represents power, protection, wisdom and self-control. In a broader sense, the stone speaks to prudence (financial, social, for instance). Black jade's power takes on the quality of purification and discharges negativity.
Black jade is also associated with the sign of Taurus, the planet Venus, the flow of water, holiness and base/root chakras. In pagan traditions, chakras refer to energy centers in your body and match powers of the mind, body and soul. The root chakra is the basis of all other chakras and refers to a grounding source that allows humans to connect with the earth's energies.
Buying Black Jade
Jade has always had a specific following over the ages. Online merchants that specialize in all forms of jade are great resources for jewelry or other products featuring the precious stone.
Jade West--the world's largest producer and exporter of nephrite jade--owns Jademine, from which it sells a host of black jade products and jewelry.
The Home Shopping Network (HSN) is the familar television-based marketplace. The vast product selection includes various products containing black jade.
Stephanie Smith is an attorney. She's been writing for five years about the environment, housing policy and pop culture. Her work has been published on eHow and About.com.