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Archive for the ‘Gemstones’ Category

The History of Jade in China

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Jade has a history in China of at least four thousands years. Unknown to some, it is found contained within the development of religion and civilization, having moved from the use of decoration on to the others such as the rites of worship and burial. Although other materials like gold, silver and bronze were also used, none of these have ever exceeded the spiritual position that jade has acquired in peoples’ minds – it is associated with merit, morality, grace and dignity. In the funeral objects of the people of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD), for example, we can see only high officials were buried with jade articles.

In the West, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds were the expensive gemstones worn by high-ranking people as status symbols, but in China, nephrite (ruan yu, 軟玉) was regarded as a status symbol, and was used for jewelry and expensive decorations.The character for jade 玉 looks almost like the character for emperor 王, with the addition of the small stroke on the bottom right that might represent a stone. The character for jade may mean “the emperor’s stone”.

During the Chinese Bronze Age and before, jade was valuable as a material for making weapons and axes. At the time, durable luxury objects, such as cups and buttons, were also made from jade.Its scarcity, because it had to be imported from Xinjiang and other faraway places, and the powers it was thought to possess to bring health and cure diseases, may be why it came to be considered the gemstone of the Emperors.

It is interesting that nephrite was imported from as far away as the region of the Taklamakan Desert, in what is now Xinjiang, 3,000 years ago.At that time, Caucasian people lived in the area. It may be that these people traded with the Shang Dynasty (1766 -1122 B.C.) of China, because all the nephrite pieces found in the Shang Dynasty tombs are from that area of Xinjiang.

During the Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD), the Emperor’s burial suits were made entirely of jade pieces that were pieced together.As the various empires came and went, the intricacy of the carvings increased. Craftsmen spent more and more time to carve more intricate designs.

Jadeite wasn’t mined in China, Mongolia or Xinjiang, so when green jadeite from Burma became available after 1800, during the Qing Dynasty, it became the preferred imperial form of jade.Looking at nephrite articles of the various eras, the designs progressively became recognizably more like modern Chinese designs, like the ones from Qing Dynasty (1636–1911).

Caring For Gemstone Jewelry

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Many women love to add a touch of color to their wardrobe, and there is no better way to do so than with gemstone jewelry. By definition, a gemstone is a mineral or stone suitable for use in jewelry after having been cut and polished. Available in virtually every color imaginable, gemstones can add the perfect compliment to your favorite pieces of jewelry. Below are tip to caring for both precious and semi-precious gemstone jewelry.

Amethyst jewelry should be stored out of direct sunlight. Why? Believe it or not, this beautiful gemstone can actually fade if exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Therefore, it’s advisable that you store your amethyst jewelry in a gift box, jewelry case or other dark space in order to help retain its vibrant coloration.

When cleaning gemstone jewelry, consider a homemade remedy to help keep your accessories shining. A combination of soap and water can cleanse most gemstones safely, and may be less harsh than commercial jewelry cleaners. As you clean your gemstone jewelry, pay close attention to the utensil(s) that you choose. Avoid any brush or other product that features bristles, which may scratch the surface of your gemstone. Instead, use a soft cloth that has no rough areas which could potentially damage the stone.

Before using any type of commercial jewelry cleaning product, always pay close attention to the directions. The reason is because not all cleaners are safe for all gemstones and, in order to maintain the beauty of your jewelry, it’s important to carefully read the instructions. Whether you are removing tarnish from your sterling silver gemstone jewelry or simply adding a little shine to your collection, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consider alternative methods for cleaning your jewelry if necessary.

When storing gemstone jewelry, make sure to place it in such a way that it will not easily come into contact with other pieces from your collection. Why? If your jewelry were to get tumbled around, the gemstones could be scratched or even broken. Many natural gemstones are durable, but they can still be scratched and even damaged if not properly cared for. If you want to ensure the protection of your jewelry, store each piece in a small zip-tight jewelry bag when it is not being worn. If you are a wearer of sterling silver, this storage method will also help to slow the tarnishing process.