Jade - 3rd Edition

Book Review by Eric J. Hoffman


   Fred and Charlotte Ward, Gem Book Publishers, 2015. 64 pp, color illus, perfectbound, 9 x 6 inches $19.95


    By now there are many excellent books on the fascinating subject of jade. But it would be hard to find one as informative, entertaining, and beautifully produced as this one.

   Fred and Charlotte Ward have been praised for their Gem Series of compact volumes exploring the history, lore, and significance of diamonds, rubies and sapphires, emeralds, opals, and pearls. Their jade volume first appeared in 1996, around the time that Mr. Ward published in National Geographic magazine what is probably the finest “popular” article on jade ever written. This latest revised edition contains much new information and up-to-date photographs.

   The story of jade is covered from pre-history all the way up to today’s top carvers. The confusing story of how jade was named— it is in fact two different stones— is well explained. Of course China— where jade has been revered for millennia as the Stone of Heaven— receives an early and thorough discussion. The rebirth of jade carving in China is also well covered. But other worldwide jade cultures are not ignored. The ancient Meso-American jade culture is thoroughly treated. The Olmec, especially, were master jade carvers, and there is tantalizing speculation about possible links with contemporaneous Chinese jade working thousands of miles away.

   Australian, Russian, and Maori (New Zealand) jade also receive a chapter each, along with jade from USA and Canadian sources. Canada is now the world’s largest jade supplier. Maori jade is particularly fascinating as those native carvers had no access at all to metal tools. Some of the finest and most creative jade carving taking place today is produced by New Zealand carvers, well illustrated in the book.

   The Wards conclude with a few pages on buying and caring for jade. Their warning that “confusion, deception, and fraud are common” in the world of jade should be taken seriously.

   This is a book you will enjoy reading and will keep for reference, even if you already own an earlier edition. You will also want to give copies to friends who love jades and jewelry.


Copyright © 2015 by Eric J. Hoffman (Home Page)

Originally published in ASJRA Newsletter, Aug/Sept 2015. Reprinted in Bull. of N.Y. Mineralogical Club, Dec 2015.