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A selection of antique, hand-crafted Chinese jade (jadeite) buttons
Unworked jade
Jade is an ornamental stone.
The term jade is applied to two different [metamorphic rock] s that are made up of different [silicate minerals] :
- [Nephrite] consists of a microcrystaline interlocking fibrous matrix of the calcium, magnesium-iron rich [amphibole] mineral series [tremolite] (calcium-magnesium)-ferroactinolite (calcium-magnesium-iron). The middle member of this series with an intermediate composition is called [actinolite] (the silky fibrous mineral form is one form of [asbestos] ). The higher the iron content the greener the colour.
- [Jadeite] is a sodium- and aluminium-rich [pyroxene] . The gem form of the mineral is a microcrystaline interlocking crystal matrix.

The English word jade (as well as the English word "jadeite") is derived (via French: l'ejade and Latin: ilia) from the Spanish term piedra de ijada (first recorded in 1565) or "loin stone", from its reputed efficacy in curing ailments of the [loin] s and [kidney] s. Nephrite is derived from lapis nephriticus , the Latin version of the Spanish piedra de ijada .

Nephrite and jadeite were used from prehistoric periods for [hardstone carving] . Jadeite has about the same [hardness] as quartz, while nephrite is somewhat softer. Both nephrite and jadeite are [tough] , but nephrite is tougher than jadeite. They can be delicately shaped. Thus it was not until the 19th century that a French mineralogist determined that "jade" was in fact two different materials. The [trade name] jadite is sometimes applied to translucent or opaque green glass.

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