Jade is something that is undeniably Oriental and for me the mere word evokes images of the Far East and exotic settings. It’s been considered precious for millennia and has been used from prehistoric times, first to make tools as it’s such a hard material, then later merely for ornamental purposes. It has great significance for Asian people and is thought to embody many virtues. And no wonder – it’s truly beautiful!
The first time I saw a jade object I was seventeen and visiting Hong Kong with my parents. The shops there were full of jade jewellery – chunky bracelets, delicate rings and pretty necklaces. I loved the colour and feel of it (it’s lovely and cool to the touch) and could totally understand why the Chinese found this material so attractive. As I have green eyes, I immediately felt that this was the perfect accessory for me and I came home with quite a few additions to my jewellery box …
At the time, I didn’t know that there are actually two types of jade – the minerals nephrite and jadeite – slightly different in colour and hardness, but similar enough that they were thought to be the same thing in the past. Nephrite comes in many shades from almost white to dark green, as well as reddish, whereas jadeite has more colour variations, even blue, lavender and pink. In the finest jade, the colour is supposed to be evenly distributed. Both types are polished to a shiny finish, with nephrite being more resinous while jadeite can have a mirror type shine.
The translucent, emerald-green jadeite is the most sought after variety – the more see-through the better (like the bowl in the photo). It was traditionally considered a “gem” (and a royal one at that since the Chinese emperors loved it), although it is actually just a stone or rock, and it was more highly prized than gold or silver. In fact, the Chinese valued it the way Europeans did with gold or diamonds.
So, when the time came to choose a title for the third instalment in my Japanese trilogy, the word jade sprang to mind and we ended up with The Jade Lioness. I think it captures the essence of the story and I hope the readers will agree!
Today is paperback publication day for The Jade Lioness, and to celebrate we thought we would give you the chance to win a signed copy of the book plus a little piece of jade – there are two sets up for grabs: a necklace or a little figurine, together with a lovely Chinese silk pouch for each. A third runner-up can win the book and a silk lipstick case in jade green. To be in with a chance, just leave a comment below and tell us what you think about jade and/or the colour green (which is a calming and positive colour I think, signifying spring and rebirth, although sometimes it’s also the colour of poison!). Does it have any special significance for you?
In the meantime, here’s the blurb for The Jade Lioness:-
Can an impossible love become possible?
Nagasaki, 1648 Temperance Marston longs to escape war-torn England and explore the exotic empire of Japan. When offered the chance to accompany her cousin and Captain Noordholt on a trading expedition to Nagasaki, she jumps at the opportunity. However, she soon finds the country’s strict laws for foreigners curtail her freedom.
On a dangerous and foolhardy venture she meets Kazuo, a ronin. Kazuo is fascinated by her blonde hair and blue eyes, but he has a mission to complete and he cannot be distracted. Long ago, his father was accused of a crime he didn’t commit – stealing a valuable ornament from the Shogun – and Kazuo must restore his family’s honour.
But when Temperance is kidnapped and sold as a concubine, he has to make a decision – can he save her and keep the promise he made to his father?