Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Jaded View

A rare mineral, jadeite is the more highly prized of the two distinct minerals which may be called jade (the other is nephrite). Much jadeite is green, but it varies widely in color. Sources of jadeite are known in Burma, Mexico and California. In Mexico, the stone was carved by Mesoamericans into ornaments, statuary, masks and jewelry. I happen to own a set of Mayan jadeite that my parents purchased in Mexico in the 1950s. The brooch and its matching earrings are carved into masks and set in sterling silver. I consider them to be among my most prized possessions, even if, in fact, the apple green stone is more likely Mexican serpentine than jadeite. No matter. These exquisite pieces belonged to my mother and therefore I treasure them as the sentimental family heirlooms they are.

Today I decided to make the tiny, carved Mayan masks the focal point of my ensemble. I pulled on a pair of vintage combed cotton pants by Air Express with an interesting turned-back waistband which my mother found for me in the 1980s (see Bohemian Spring), and a soft, embellished Tee by Yukiko that was a gift to me from my best friend’s mother, Joyce, last year. I added a faux snakeskin belt from Target, comfortable Aerosole wedge-heeled sandals, a fashion ring of beveled green glass (also a gift from Joyce) and a bracelet of Connemara marble stones I bought on a trip to Ireland last summer (see Irish Eyes Are Smiling).

According to, an online gem and jewelry resource, Mayans in Mexico and Guatemala "had jadeite weapons and tools hundreds of years before the Chinese first saw the material". Indeed, Jade derived its name from the Spanish "piedras de ijada" which translates to "stone of the loins". Interestingly, the Greek word "nephros" means "kidney." Rough nephrite boulders resembled kidneys, so jade was thought to be a healing stone for kidney ailments.

I added a chain to the brooch years ago so I could
wear it as a necklace
For the Mayans, the color green was associated with two important life-giving substances, water and maize; the green stone was therefore viewed as having life-giving properties. The ancient Chinese considered jade capable of improving blood circulation and providing support to the central nervous system, believing that consumption of powdered jade would invigorate the heart and lungs. Actually, jade is primarily composed of magnesium, iron, and calcium. Magnesium and calcium increase bone density and iron aids in building red blood cells, so it comes as no surprise that jade would encourage red blood cell production and strengthen bones. Additionally, calcium is a powerful digestive aid, particularly for acid reflux, hence the stone’s reputation as a tonic for liver, kidney and digestion problems.

Me?  I just like the fascinating variegations on the carved faces of my little green men and the deep sentiment they hold for me. That they might be providing me with robust circulation and enhanced digestion is simply icing on the cake.

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