THE GOLD OF THAT LAND: Biblical Minerals & Rocks  


39.     jade  

Hebrew: yahalôm. Jade is a more realistic identification of yahalôm than diamond in Exodus 28:18, 39:11; and Ezekiel 28:13.


    The term jade includes the tough, compact, and semiprecious forms of two different but related silicate minerals, jadeite and nephrite.

    Nephrite is a form of tremolite (Ca2Mg5Si8O22(OH)2, an amphibole or silicate mineral with a double-chain structure and monoclinic crystals. Jadeite (NaAlSi2O6) is a pyroxene or silicate mineral with a single-chain structure and monoclinic crystals. Both minerals occur in metamorphic rocks: jadeite in serpentine and nephrite in talc or hornblende schists. They vary in color from white to green, and apple green is typical of jadeite. They are difficult to distinguish visually, but jadeite fuses more easily and is slightly harder and denser at 6.5 to 7 and 3.3 to 3.5, respectively, versus 6 and 3.0 to 3.3. Although not particularly hard, their interlocking fibrous structure makes both jadeite and nephrite exceptionally tough stones.


Historical Background:

    Both jadeite and nephrite were used in ancient Mesopotamia in making maces and axe-heads, vases, and signet rings. Nephrite and jadeite do not occur in Egypt, but numerous examples show that they reached Egypt in trade and tribute from predynastic times onward. Ancient supplies of nephrite came from Switzerland in central Europe or Turkestan, Kashmir, and Siberia in Asia, while the much scarcer jadeite came from Burma, China, and Tibet.

    Other modern sources of jadeite and nephrite include North and South America and New Zealand.


Hurlbut, 1952, op. cit.; 362, 369.

Lucas & Harris, op. cit.; 396-397.

Jolyon, Ralph, 1993-2004. &

Schumann, op. cit.; 154-157.

Ward, op. cit.


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