St. Patrick’s Day is a global celebration of Irish culture, celebrating one of Ireland’s patron saints from the fifth century.  Almost 12 percent of Americans claim Irish ancestry and more than 80 million people worldwide claim an ancestral connection to the emerald island. This Saturday, thousands of people across the nation will be dripping in plastic green beads, felt hats, shamrock earrings and green T-shirts. Why not “go green” with slightly more panache? Jade jewelry is a perfect St. Patrick’s Day accompaniment.

Jade has six natural colors: green, lavender, red, yellow, white and black.  The green color varies from pale or yellowish green to Granny Smith apple green, its best color.

In Central America, the Mayans and the Aztecs prized jadeite jade. They used it for medicinal purposes, as well as for jewelry, ornaments, and religious artifacts. The name jade comes from the Spanish expression piedra de ijada — literally “stone of the pain in the side.” In China, young women wear the lightest of jade bracelets. The longer they wear it, the darker the jade will become.

Jade rings, while not as common as jade bracelets and earrings, are prized, including the one pictured that sold last year for $1,950 at Rago Arts and Auction Center.