Dating back to the Neolithic Hermadu culture, the Chinese have been creatively carving yu (the Chinese word for jade stone) for over 6,000 years. Believing yu to be the essence of Heaven and Earth, it came to symbolize many virtuous characteristics in Chinese culture, such as integrity, wisdom, loyalty, sincerity, and morality. In ancient Chinese culture, yu was not only used to comfort, protect and bring immortality to the dead, but was widely used by the living, as personal adornment and as a talisman. That tradition still continues today inside China, with jade rings, pendants, beads and bracelets still being worn as talisman.
Over the centuries in Chinese culture, the name yu has been used and understood as the collective name for many precious stones. Today the international community only recognizes one stone as being real jade. This is the mineral called Nephrite, or more commonly identified as Nephrite Jade. In spite of this international opinion, the name Chinese Jade remains associated with many different precious and semiprecious stones within China.