The story of Russian Nephrite, its mining and value should begin with a short introduction. For thousands of years, people have been using Nephrite to create the most significant spiritual objects, and they constantly use it in tactile meditation to understand themselves and the world. Until the 19th century, Russia imported stone from China, but in the 1860s Siberia found its own deposits of “green gold”, and since then Russian masters began to work with domestic material.
This article is not only about the deposits of Nephrite in Russia and its export to China today, but also about its role in the country’s culture. You will also learn about some varieties of Nephrite and plunge into the mysterious properties of the mineral.
What is Russian Nephrite?
Nephrite is a mineral with a waxy luster, cryptocrystalline actinolite, a valuable ornamental stone. It is usually found in green color – from light to dark. White, yellow, blue, and black Nephrite is rare.
Nephrite has unique properties. Due to the unusual structure resembling felt, the mineral is twice as strong as steel, and five times as strong as granite. Masters use special tools to process it.
Another unusual feature is musicality. The Mining Museum in St. Petersburg has a rare exhibit – a plate of singing Nephrite found in Southern Siberia. It emits a melodious and soft sound with a hit. According to Chinese legends, Confucius was fond of playing Nephrite plates, especially in those moments when he was desperate for his own strength. With the sound came wise thoughts, peace, and comfort.
Magical properties of Nephrite.
Since ancient times, people thought that Nephrite could grant immortality. Nephrite was also considered a sacred stone that protected its owner. Pieces of this mineral were put into the mouths of the deceased as a talisman for the afterlife.
One of the most powerful world rulers, Tamerlane, believed in the magical properties of Nephrite. A dark green Nephrite tombstone was placed on his grave. According to legend, there are inscriptions carved on the inside of the slab:
“Anyone, who disturbs my peace in this life, or the next, will suffer and perish.”
Indeed, any attempts to move the slab ended in tragic events.
Nephrite tombstone was first taken by the Shah Nadir of Iran. Immediately after that, a strong earthquake occurred in Iran, which destroyed the city, and the ruler became seriously ill. Then the tombstone was returned to its place.
The second time the lid was removed from the tomb in 1941 by Soviet Union scientists, and three days later the Second World War began in Russia. The Nephrite tombstone was returned a month before the Battle of Stalingrad, which was won, and then came a turning point in the war.
Nephrite in the culture of Russia.
The history of human interaction with Nephrite begins in the stone age. Due to its remarkable physical properties (high hardness and toughness), it has become an ideal material to produce tools.
Later, when the stone processing technique reached a certain level, people saw this mineral in a completely different perspective. While other stones (such as Obsidian and Flint) gave way to metals, Nephrite did not leave the historical scene, but only changed its role. In many world cultures, it was chosen for the manufacture of cult items, and it acquired a special value in the minds of people.
Nephrite has also long been used along with other ornamental stones (Jasper, Amethyst, Rhodonite, Lapis Lazuli, etc.) to produce jewelry, decoration of weapons and other household items in Russia. So, Faberge workshops combined Nephrite with Gold, Diamonds, Emeralds, and Rubies.
Deposits of Nephrite in Russia.
The main deposits of Nephrite are in Eastern Siberia, and Nephrite is also extracted in the polar Urals. Two deposits of Nephrite have been explored and are being prepared for development in the Krasnoyarsk territory. Raw Nephrite reserves are estimated at 336 tons.
Buryatia is called a storehouse of gems. And not least for the fact that most of the Nephrite deposits (13 of 16 deposits) are located here. Russia extracts 90 percent of Nephrite in Buryatia. Over the past 20 years, mining of Nephrite has increased 18 times.
Reserves of rare colors were discovered in the North of Buryatia: red, white, blue jade, and even with the effect of cat’s eye Apple-green color Nephrite.
It is noteworthy that there are areas where Nephrite deposits are not fully studied in Buryatia, since many areas are difficult to access and you can only get there by helicopter.
If you want to have a piece of Russian Nephrite on hand, there is a great way to do it. Our store offers a huge selection of whiskey stones made from green and white Nephrite, extracted in Buryatia (Baikal). They can be used both for cooling and for heating any drinks. These stones can create a delightful musical symphony in a glass and fill it with their strongest energy.
About white and green Nephrite.
White Nephrite is a semi-precious stone that jewelers around the world value a lot. It is much rare than green Nephrite, that is why products made from white Nephrite have higher price. Such items were always a sign of power and well-being. Earlier only by representatives of the nobility and upper classes of society could use white Nephrite.
Green Nephrite is not as valuable as white one, but products made from it amaze with their glow and tactile sensations. No wonder that for thousands of years green Nephrite was a material for jewelry and amulets.
Export of Nephrite from Russia to China.
Nephrite is the national stone of China. However, Chinese government closed all deposits in China, and imposed a moratorium on extraction. So, many countries export Nephrite to China, and Russia is not the least.
The export of Nephrite to China began in 1930. The delegation from China meticulously selected 800 kilograms of the best quality stone from the five tons offered. During the existence of the USSR, Russia exported Nephrite to China more than once, but sales were sporadic until the end of the XX century.
In the 1990s, exports increased significantly, as export prices for illegal Nephrite were lower: people mined many deposits with barbaric methods, using dynamite and gunpowder. The authorities of Buryatia are still trying to stop illegal mining.
Often the pursuit of the sacred stone leads to the fact that prospectors risk their own lives. There are cases when illegal miners went missing in the taiga in search of the cherished mineral. Nephrite of high quality will never be cheap. Often its price depends on the color and transparency of the sample, as well as the place of origin.
You can see a special attitude to Nephrite in a wide variety of cultures. The fact, that attention to this stone today does not disappear and continues to increase, speaks of its true value. Products made of Nephrite are pleasant for contemplation and for the touch. All types of Nephrite stones are extremely solid, their structure is not inferior in hardness to steel.
We remind you that you have the opportunity to purchase high-quality Nephrite from Russia, which will be a useful and unique gift for you and your loved ones. Learn more about Nephrite stones for whiskey from our article.
You can also find luxury gifts decorated with gold and Nephrite in our store. Each item is a piece of art.