Spectacular Rare Jade Slab With Dramatic Whorls Of Green And White Unveiled At The American Museum Of Natural History

by AMNH on


A jade specimen containing whorls of green and white.
This two-foot-long, 55-pound slab of jade can be seen in the Museum's Grand Gallery.
© AMNH/R. Mickens
This spectacular rare jade slab is now on display in the Museum's 77th Street Grand Gallery.

Credit: Roderick Mickens / AMNH

two-foot-long slice from a jadeite jade boulder provides a spectacular window into the dramatic process that formed this highly prized type of jade. This jadeite started as a small vein, or fracture, over 12 miles underground that was wrenched apart by the collision of two tectonic plates over 35 million years ago. During the shakeup, mineral-rich fluids rose into cracks in Earth's mantle and deposited jadeite rock. As the tectonic plates continued to rub against one another, the veins of jadeite broke and reformed again and again, producing the remarkable emerald green and white swirls. The polished 55-pound slab was recovered from northern Burma. 

"In order to look the way it does, this vein had to be broken and healed thousands of times," said George Harlow, Curator in Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Museum. "Imagine breaking a bone and allowing it to heal with a slight kink in it, then doing it again and again until it looks like a pretzel. That is what happened to this boulder."

The spectacular jade slab is now on display in the Museum's 77th Street Grand Gallery.

Also on display are two delicately carved jade pieces from China, dating from the early 1900sa nephrite jade vessel for incense and a jadeite jade carving of Guanyin, Buddhist goddess of mercy.

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