Jade Cat Claw

May 18, 2010

Green Cat Claw.  A bluish-green to black mixture of fine-grained nephrite jade and coarse-grained amphibolite with minor serpentine and microscopic magnetite octahedra.  This odd stone comes from Victorville, CA  in the Mojave Desert and is not a typical California jade.  Strictly speaking, the coarser-grained dark material isn’t “jade” at all, though the mineralogy is the same.  Unpredictable and extremely challenging to carve and polish.  The claw is exactly two inches long.  I chose the shape because I wanted to make maximum use of the material and to emphasize the color and grain size differences.  A nice pocket rock!

Jade Cat Claw Carving

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6 Responses to “Jade Cat Claw”

  1. debra said

    I love the graceful lines and interplay of color an texture. I assume we’re seeing two sides of the one carving?

  2. ironwing said

    Yes, the photos show both sides. It’s about 1/4 inch thick.

  3. debra said

    Really! So thin. It’s a beautiful form.

  4. Wow! Are the two materials (light and dark) different hardness?

  5. ironwing said

    The green part of the stone and the black part are both made of the same mineral (actinolite amphibole). It is a hard, glassy mineral with elongate crystals and a “woody” texture that makes the crystals slightly harder in one direction than the other. So the fine-grained part is harder (more abrasion-resistant) and tougher (less likely to crack). The coarse-grained part is a bit softer because the elongate crystals give the stone a varying “grain” (kind of like trying to polish a chunk of chipboard). The coarse actinolite crystals (Mohs hardness = 6-7) also have inclusions of magnetite (hardness = 5) and are partly altered to serpentine (hardness = 3). Visually, the contact between the fine-grained and coarse-grained sections is somewhat gradational but the difference in them as carving materials is quite sharp.

  6. Thanks for the detailed answer – I have a lot to learn about rocks. My lapidary skills are very basic, and I’m impatient…

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