Nephrite is one of two different minerals referred to as Jade, the other being Jadeite. Nephrite is essentially a calcium silicate composition with varying amounts of iron. The origin of the word Nephrite comes from the Greek word nephros meaning kidney.
Frequently now referred to as Nephrite Jade, Nephrite, Jade, Greenstone and Pounamu are just some of the names given to this semi-precious green stone revered across many cultures for thousands of years. The Chinese refer to Jade as "yu" which means "heavenly" or "imperial".
Nephrite is more common than Jadeite and deposits have been found in New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, China, Canada, Zimbabwe, Russia, Taiwan, Alaska and Poland. British Columbia is the largest source of Nephrite Jade in the world. It is easily the most sought after because of its deep and light green colouration.
The colour of Nephrite can vary depending on its source and quality. Commonly it is envisioned as an imperial green stone yet can hold almost any shade of green, orange, black, white, blue, grey and yellow.
Jade plays a part in the history of New Zealand. It has been treasured for many years by the Maoris who call it Pounamu, Greenstone or NZ Jade. Pounamu has been made into Maori tools and weapons. Nephrite today is believed to be a stone of dreams. It is thought that it can bless whatever it touches.
Pictured above is a wire sculptured pendant that I made using Nephrite Jade, and which for once, I kept for myself.
Below are some more examples of Nephrite Jade jewellery made by members of the Jewelry on Etsy team.