Drawer 48: Jade

“Momentum” 

My Chinese Apothecary Chest:   in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during my husband’s ex-pat assignment. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers, mostly sorted by color.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 48/Drawer 48: November 29, 2017: “Momentum”

To me, Jade is Hong Kong. Worn by many citizens, seen in shop windows, handled at the Jade Market:  it is the heart and soul of Hong Kong.  I became very attracted to it.

When I discovered the Jade Market, I walked there from our Kowloon apartment, frequently slipping into the Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium, a large department store on Nathan Road, to find curios and objets for my growing Asian collectibles.

Approaching the Jade Market were countless small jewelry shops full of Cantonese-speaking shoppers, men in the street hawking big chunks of jade from their small pick-up trucks, and a few Westerners like me with anticipation glistening in our eyes. The Market is really a tent, permanently erected, and certainly the size of a football field.  I walked around until something I saw drew me in.  The vendor rushed around with a low stool, a tray and a smile.  I could sit for an hour, choosing the beads I deemed suitable for a necklace.

Don and I lived in Hong Kong for 18 months in 1993-4 and the memory of the Jade Market is still fresh. Unfortunately, what material I have left from that era isn’t enough to make a necklace.

So here is this week’s necklace: Suzhou jade, also called new jade, in a dark to light variation with two carved beads on each side  separating the two shades.  There were no leftover beads, so wear your silver earrings.  A nicely carved turtle, 2” x 2.25”, is the centerpiece.  Sterling silver clasp.

The tortoise is an enigmatic creature for the Chinese, “concealing the secrets of heaven and earth”: they see its shell as the vaulted  heaven and its underside as the flat disc of earth.  It also symbolizes steadfastness.

The necklace measures 18.5” long plus 2.25” for the tortoise.

 

While still in Hong Kong, I started using my Jade Market finds. I found a helpful book to explain the meanings of carvings such as the tortoise above: A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols by Wolfram Eberhard, first published in 1983.

Drawer 20: Yellow Jade

My Apothecary Chest: in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during an ex-pat assignment there. Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 20/Drawer 20: May 17, 2017: “Care of the Soul”

 

I thought a drawer full of yellow jade would make for a bland necklace until I came across some wonderful artist-made lampwork glass in the yellow jade tone with relief-providing beige highlights! Thank you, Sheila Checkoway (Mass.)!

Sheila was featured in a homage to women glass artists in my blog dated April11, 2016. This necklace contains 20 of her beads, each slightly different, and 22 beads of yellow jade.  Sheila also found the centerpiece, a blade of kyanite, on her travels in Tanzania, Africa.

Kyanite is an aluminum silicate mineral (crystal) found in the long blade format you see here. Blue is the most common color but this orange tone was recently discovered.  I also purchased two longer blades that are quite orange; this centerpiece is subtle in its orange and harmonizes well with the yellow jade tones.  Google raves about its amazing metaphysical properties, so check it out if that is your interest. I shall summarize it thusly; kyanite is a bridge, an extraordinary crystal that creates pathways where none existed before.

 

 

I discovered yellow jade in Hong Kong, site of an incredible Jade Market accessible to all, but you will have to wait until Drawer 49 to see the unique green color of local jade, bought at the Jade Market in the 90’s, for more info on that subject! Yellow jade is less available than green jade or new jade which is a pale shade of green.

The Chinese started mining yellow jade in 6000 BC. Confucius (551—479 BC) thought it had properties that encouraged purity, bravery and honesty.  Its yellow varies from lemon to golden; I have mostly the shade you see here which in my mind is mustard seed.  Its yellow properties are caused by iron leaching during its weathering stage.  Yellow jade was beloved by Emperors and the Imperial Court; mostly sculpted into imposing foo dogs and pagodas.

The necklace is 19” and has a brass clasp and vermeil beads. Matching earrings.  $119.

Picaresque

 

 

Necklace "Picaresque"

 

I intuitively named this necklace “Picaresque.” Upon thinking of the meaning as rogue or bohemian, it is really appropriate. This necklace is all about the centerpiece; I made it in a class in the 90’s, wore it in the bohemian era on a cord, and put it aside.

Recycled, reused and re-invented, it is happy now with yellow jade beads tying the centerpiece to the necklace. Only after living in Hong Kong and becoming a regular at the Jade Market did I realize how many colors of jade there are! This strand is a honey mustard shade, interspersed with the same ethnic beads as the centerpiece. It is finished with a gold metal clasp.

Let me describe the delicious beads featured in the centerpiece: The most roguish are the two irregular rounds of ram’s horn—the first and only time I had a chance to buy ram’s horn; from Morocco’s Atlas Mountains as I recall. My next favorite beads are the jasper and yellow striped beads. They are trade beads from Mozambique that I bought in a Lisbon, Portugal flea market in 1965…long before beading was a word that had even drifted through my mind!

You’ll also notice a conical wood bead in the same honey mustard shade, two ethnic jasper beads of unknown provenance, green sand-cast glass African beads, and glass jasper spacers. The framework for the centerpiece is brass wire.

The necklace measures 22” with the centerpiece 3” wide by 3 ½” long. The price is $215 including shipping.