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For 5,000 years Imperial China used the word "jade" as something precious. Because jade is said to have all the attributes most valued in society. A symbol of purity and serenity, it is delicate, but will not break - is beautiful, but not impermanent, it can be flawed with lines, but still pleasing. It is believed to radiate divine unconditional love and balance the emotions. Held in the hand it can improve judgment - ancient silk traders often held jade while bartering. A small piece of jade worn around the neck was said to dispel illness.
Chinese jade first arrived in the West during the sixteenth century, brought from Canton by the Portuguese. Today jade continues to be a symbol of love, virtue, and status. With Chinese carvings reaching the highest value. The best jade has a waxy, pearly appearance. Feeling cool and so smooth, it seems soft to the touch. Yet hard enough that pressure from a sharp knife will not leave a mark.
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