Posted 1 year ago
New Zealand's nephrite jade, locally called greenstone, is well known as the material used by the indigenous Maori people to make magnificent adornments and weapons, centuries before European colonisation.
There is another highly prized and much rarer type of greenstone, New Zealand Bowenite, called Tangiwai by the Maori, meaning 'maiden's tears', referring to the watery translucence of the stone.
Tangiwai is only found at two remote bays in the South Island and is believed to be the original variety of greenstone used by Maori before they discovered nephrite.
Bowenite is a semi-precious type of serpentine suitable for lapidary work and once favoured by Faberge. The New Zealand variety is of particularly fine quality, however it's now protected and virtually unobtainable.
This colonial era (circa 1900) necklace of Tangiwai is an impressive size. It's set in 9ct rose gold and the length of the drop is about 3 inches (77mm), the two main stones are both approx 14 x 10mm.
While antique Tangiwai items can be found in traditional Maori forms like earrings and pendants, I'm not aware of any other items of non-Maori colonial jewellery that feature Tangiwai, so this is an extremely rare piece.