The European colonists of New Zealand called it greenstone, the geologist calls it nephrite, the gemologist calls it jade, and the Maori call it pounamu. Each is a different term describing the same material. It is credited with an array of highly desirable properties and is as highly-prized today as it was by the ancients some thousands of years ago.
Today as in ancient times, jade carving is a painstaking and exacting art form and care must be taken not to shatter the stone or make wasteful cuts. A carver first needs to study the heart of the stone; to see where its strengths lie in terms of colour, clarity and patterning, then work to illuminate the best of those elements within a piece.
It is a very time consuming process, and a single carving, depending on its intricacy, can take anywhere from half a day, to an entire day to complete. With the more complex designs, like a hei tiki for instance, it can take between two to four days to complete.
Mountain Jade School group tours feature:
Contact: Sabine Willemsen
Location: 1288 Fenton St – Central Rotorua
Phone: +64 7 349 1828
Mountain Jade Education – learn about the properties of pounamu and nephrite from around the world.