The Wearing of the Green Gemstones: Jade, Emeralds, Malachite & More!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This week, I’m reminded of a very old, very bad joke that my dad used to tell. My dad was as German as a person could be. In fact, he had the most German name ever — Otto Rosenbusch. But every year on St. Patrick’s Day, Dad would wear all green and tell everyone that he was Irish because (wait for it) his name was . . . O’Rosenbusch. Get it? O. Rosenbusch. Yeah, I told you it was bad. If anyone wants to know where my rather warped sense of humor comes from, look no further than that joke. It may also help explain why my favorite color is green.

As a gemstone enthusiast, I’ve always been drawn to green stones. Emeralds, malachite, variscite, peridot — I love them all. But perhaps my favorite green stone is jade. I adore jade! And I’m not the only one. Renée Newman, author of Exotic Gems, Volume 4: How to Identify, Evaluate, & Select Jade & Abalone Pearls, had this to say about artist Deborah Wilson’s jade carvings:

The Wearing of the Green Gemstones

Goalie mask sculpture made from Canadian Yukon nephrite jade with a base of black Australian nephrite. CARVING AND PHOTO: DEBORAH WILSON

A hockey goalie mask, an eggshell, a doodle, and a “heart on fire” inspired Deborah Wilson’s recent carvings, all of which are made of Canadian jade. Since Deborah is a jade artist from British Columbia, she has easy access to the jades from various Canadian mines.

Her goalie mask sculpture is made of Yukon nephrite, which typically has a distinctive soft, green color. According to Deborah, chromite inclusions that normally are in abundance with British Columbia jade deposits are not present as much in Yukon jade, as far as she has seen.

Doodles in Polar jade pendant CARVING AND PHOTO: DEBORAH WILSON

“The brightest, hardest, and most translucent Canadian nephrite jade comes from the Polar mine in northern British Columbia. Examples are the eggshell and doodle pendants. The “heart on fire” pendant is made of BC Kutcho Creek nephrite jade, which is usually a little darker and softer than Yukon and Polar jade.

The Wearing of the Green Gemstones

Polar jade eggshell pendant

The Mohs hardness of nephrite ranges from 6–6.5 whereas that of jadeite jade is 6.5–7. Keep in mind that the Mohs scale just compares which minerals can visibly scratch other minerals. It does not quantify their cutting resistance. The difference in hardness between jadeite and nephrite jade is actually much greater than what the Mohs scale suggests. One jade carver told me it takes him twice as long to carve and polish jadeite as it does nephrite because of jadeite’s greater hardness. The Chinese differentiated the two jades by calling nephrite “soft jade” and jadeite “hard jade.”

The Wearing of the Green Gemstones

“Heart on Fire” pendant made of BC Kutcho Creek nephrite jade

And there are many more amazing green gems and jewelry to be found on the market — and on the fashion runways. In her Trends column, “The Color Report,” in the January/February issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, jewelry style expert Deborah Yonick took a look at the Pantone® Fashion Color Report for Spring-Summer 2017. The report tells you what colors are hot and on-trend for the season. Two stunning green shades made the list — Kale (a darker green) and Greenery (a bright, almost “perky” shade).

The Wearing of the Green Gemstones

Pantone® Kale

The Wearing of the Green Gemstones. Pantone Greenery - color of the year!

Pantone® Greenery

Margery Hirshey’s emerald earrings and the green onyx Mini Claw Stud Earrings by Meghna Jewels are great examples of high-end jewelry reflecting these on-trend colors.

The Wearing of the Green Gemstones

Margery Hirschey
Emeralds, 22K yellow gold

Still haven’t gotten enough green? The January/February issue also includes a gorgeous Reticulated Silver and Variscite Ring created by one of our favorite jewelry artists, John F. Heusler. You will definitely want to use this amazing stone in your own green creations.

The Wearing of the Green Gemstones

John F. Heusler, F.S.A., G.G.
Reticulated Silver and Variscite Ring

If green isn’t your “thing,” never fear. Deborah’s Trends column appears in every issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and spotlights the current trends in jewelry designs. You’ll also find other projects like John’s which will teach you new jewelry-making techniques and inspire your own on-trend designs.

And now, I’m off to have a green beer in my “Irish” dad’s honor.

Stay green!

Karla O’Rosenbusch

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  1. Wendy S at 10:07 am March 15, 2017

    Your article came at a most perfect time! I have pulled out all of my green stones to do a presentation for a fourth grade classroom that is doing an earth science unit. Golly gee there are a lot of green stones! Not only the stone you mention, but I have a few stones in my collection: Peridot, green amethyst, green fluorite, Tsavorite garnets, Demantoid Garnets, Chome Diopside, Serpentine, Adventurine, Chrysoprase, tourmalines, green apatite, and Malachite. Top of the mornin’ to ya me lass.

    • Karla R at 11:41 am March 24, 2017

      Haha!! Thanks, Wendy! Yeah, there are tons and tons of green stones. In fact, malachite is definitely one of my personal favorites. How cool that you used the stones for your classroom. And so timely! I’ll bet your students got a lot out of it. Lucky students!

      Thanks again.

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