common name for either of two minerals used as gems. The rarer variety of jade is jadeite, a sodium aluminum silicate, NaAl(SiO3)2, usually white or green in color; the green variety is the more valuable. The commoner and less costly variety of jade is nephrite, a calcium magnesium iron silicate of varying composition, white to dark green in color. Jade has been prized by the Chinese and Japanese, as well as by pre-Colombian Mesoamerican peoples, as the most precious of all gems. The Chinese in particular are known for the objets d'art they carve from it, and they traditionally associated it with the five cardinal virtues: charity, modesty, courage, justice, and wisdom; they also attributed healing powers to it. It was much used for implements by ancient peoples.
When I was a kid, every rock that I found was a "Rock". There were pretty rocks and ugly rocks. As I got older and more sophisticated, rocks became either jasper, sandstone, quartz, soapstone or isinglass. They still fell into two classifications for me, pretty rocks and ugly rocks.
Back in the fifties, everybody took on a new interest in mining. Uranium became a big item after they developed nuclear weapons. They also needed uranium to power the nuclear power plants that they were starting to build. A friend of my grandmothers asked her for permission to “prospect” on her property in Laytonville. Of course she said yes. It was pretty exciting for her to think that somebody might find something valuable on her property.
The old prospector was very knowledgeable about rocks. He didn't expect to find Uranium, but he did expect that he would probably find something worth mining on Gramma's property. He found some fairly favorable tungsten ore, but not in the amounts that would have been worth mining.
The one thing that the old prospector did find, was me at his heels. He became the total focus of my insatiable curiosity. I learned quite a bit about the names of rocks from him. He knew about the “Jade” on the Eel River. He told me that it is really not Jade, but “Nephrite”. He said that is was pretty like jade, but not nearly as valuable. For a 9 year old boy, that was hard for me to understand. To me a pretty rock was a pretty rock, I couldn't understand the concept of “valuable”.
I found out from him that the stuff we called “Fools Gold” was really iron-pyrite. Again, I couldn't understand why it was not valuable. We found fools gold all over the ranch. He soon started asking me where certain kinds of rocks were. And, of course I knew where all of the “pretty rocks” were. I was able to lead him right to wherever he wanted to see a certain type of rock. We had a little trouble communicating at first. He had all of the Newcomer names for my pretty rocks. But, we were able to teach each other a lot. One of the things that I found to be really interesting about hin is that he used to be a cop in Texas, and he still packed a 45 cal semi-automatic pistol in a shoulder holster. I had never seen an a semi automatic pistol before.
The reason that I tell you all of this, long story, is just to prove that I was right all along. “A pretty rock, is a pretty rock”. The stuff in the Eel River that we called “Eel River Jade” has slowly changed from worthless to semi-precious.
The main deposits of Eel River Jade is in a place called Mina, just north of Covelo on the North Fork Eel River. A fellow by the name Sam Gitchel, from Philo, California, bought the ranch out there, and has been mining it. Jade is found in several locations on the main Eel, and is of varying colors, from white to dark green. Some is almost black. There are shades of blue and also red. But it is all called “Nephrite”. The stuff that my old prospector friend called “worthless”.
Here are some Photo's from Sam's website:
The art of "Suiseki" is the Japanese art of stone appreciation. They will display the stone in it's most natural form, depicted in an artful way.