Saturday, September 25, 2010


Guatemala is one of the few countries in the world to harvest jade. I've never paid much attention to the precious stone before here -- where it's sold on practically every street corner. It didn't take long for me to decide I needed something jade.

We visited a jade factory of our host dad's friend, Julio. It's a small operation out of his mom's garage. Here comes my highly detailed and I'm sure quite accurate description of how jade is made. It absolutely fascinated me so I feel the need to share.

Julio's shop.

Julio mines most of his jade in the mountains of the Zacapa region of Guatemala. It comes to him looking like this. A pile of rocks, nothing too pretty. We actually watched Julio's mom's dog relieve himself on the pile, apparently mistaking it for nothing too valuable. Umm, is that how the rare yellow stones get their color?!

A pile of jade.

Using this machine, he cuts of slices of the rock. Then using a few other machines he cuts the slices into specific shapes, then carves and shapes it further with other big machines.

The chain saw thing-a-ma-gig.

He then shines the piece until the true color comes through. Jade comes in all sorts of colors from green to lilac to black to yellow to translucent to red.

Unshined on left, shined on right.

This piece was amazing. A medium green when holding it in your hand -- translucent in the light. Guatemala is famous for its green shades of green.

After hours and hours of trying on all of Julio's jewelry (and asking Tommy which one made my face look fatter) I made my purchase. I fell in love with this gray and lilac stone -- and the organic shape of it. And salesman Julio said it matched my eyes perfectly. Doesn't take much to talk me into anything, really.

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