Perhaps the most treasured gemstone in history, jade has been prized for its protective powers for thousands of years. Along with its enduring properties of clarity, wisdom and peace, jade has a rich history that dates back to the Stone Age.
Jade is divided into two different minerals: nephrite and jadeite. Each has similar yet different physical properties that contribute to its colour, lustre and hardness. Nephrite jade rates 6.5 out of 10, making it one of the toughest minerals, which provided Prehistoric workers a useful material to shape into weapons and tools.
AN EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE AND RARE WHITE JADE TRIPOD INCENSE BURNER AND COVER QING DYNASTY. ESTIMATE HK$8,000,000–
12,000,000 ($1,029,200–1,543,800). TO BE OFFERED IN IMPORTANT CHINESE ART IN HONG KONG ON 6 APRIL.
The most sought after jade is jadeite, which comes in a spectrum of colours: shades of dark green and even hues of lilac, red and yellow, a result of impurities within the stone. The ancient civilisation of the Mayans and later the Aztecs, revered jadite for its medicinal purposes, as natives would hold the gemstone to their sides to cure and relieve ailments. Thus the name “jade” was born from the Spanish expression, “piedra de injada” – quite literally, “stone of the pain in the side.”
However, it was China where the tradition of using jadeite as an important artistic medium began. Associated with five virtues: benevolence (lustre and brilliance), honesty (translucent texture), wisdom (tranquil tone) and integrity/bravery (can be broken but not twisted), artisans carved jadeite into priceless masterpieces ranging from objects to jewels. These masterpieces are armed with rich cultural associations, history and heritage making them the ultimate rarity and ornament.
Should you require the perfect piece of jadeite jewellery, Sotheby’s Diamonds will be on view alongside Hong Kong’s Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite exhibition, 1-6 April at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hall 5, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (New Wing) 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
The Sotheby’s Diamonds collection is available for immediate purchase 365 days a year in New York +212 894 1400 and Hong Kong + 852 2822 8179
Lead image: A spinach-green jade inscribed plaque, Qing Dynasty, 18th century (detail). Estimate HK$150,000–200,000 ($19,297–25,730). To be offered in Important Chinese Art in Hong Kong on 6 April.