The Art of Giving
16 Nov 2018

The Art of Giving

According to cultural anthropologists, gift giving is in our DNA. It is an innate impulse or activity that doesn't need too much thought or reason; a reflex we're born with, for example, think of a small child silently handing you a toy truck to play with, this simple action a pure distillation of giving.

Being able to choose the perfect gift can take skill, one that comes with its own rewards. Everyone loves to feel understood, valued and good gifters are often known as having perceptive insight into the individual qualities of their friends and family.

A great gift is thoughtful and well-planned. It’s often better to select a gift that is something that speaks to who they are as a person, not just what they like. Greenstone pendants are traditionally gifted to another, so knowing the greenstone pendant meanings can make it easier to choose the perfect gift.

Gift-giving could be seen as the most ancient form of reciprocation, like holding hands or hugging a loved one. While often the occasion is a formalised event like a birthday or Christmas, sometimes you just want to express a kind of gratitude that requires more than words. The ineffable sentiments of life, the immeasurable emotions, often a well-chosen object can speak accurately the words you’re struggling to find.

Gift giving pre-dates civilisation, right back to the early beginnings of our species. In primitive cultures, the gifting of objects showed connection and love between individuals, just as it does today. Gifts were also a way to indicate status between leaders of tribes. Special or treasured items, such as bark, a rock or a tooth were commonly gifted amongst cavemen civilisations. As the progression of tools developed, the more ornate and delicate the gifts would become. The jade necklace is an obvious contemporary equivalent of these early tokens, one which holds on to so much of this early tradition.

Choosing a jade gift

While not always the case, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to consider the monetary value of the gift as largely unimportant. A well-selected gift will have its roots in much better considerations, or as the old adage goes “It’s the thought that counts”. People tend to prefer an object or experience that resonates with a story about themselves and their connection with the gift giver, or an aspiration they have for the future. It’s the narrative of your shared connection. The way a gift is presented can have a real effect on the way it's received. A gift that is beautifully wrapped, with a handwritten note is almost always going to have a strong emotional impact.

Choosing a gift requires us to think deeply about others, providing a unique opportunity to both expresses yourself, and how well you know someone - especially what they value and appreciate. Some people love to accumulate possessions, while others prefer a more minimal approach to life. If you have a friend who is environmentally conscious, they may treasure a gift that will last for many generations, for example, an item of jewellery, a carving or something ephemeral, like a star in the night sky.

If you are considering a jade necklace for someone as a gift, there are a few things to consider, like the possible messages and meanings you’d like to convey, the various interests that person has, and what kind of stylistic preferences they have. Do they prefer a more traditional style or a more modern approach to design?

The hei-matau or fish hook design is often highly stylised and represents safe passage over water. This pendant would make the ideal gift for anyone who loves the water or is going travelling soon. This design is seen in both a contemporary and a traditional style and holds a widespread appeal. The heart design is arguably one of the most universal symbols of affection and love but is most often thought of as having a feminine quality, while the toki, or adze, takes its form from an early Maori tool, similar to an axe, and is often considered to have a slightly more masculine character.

Gift pieces

Used as a symbol of peace, and considered a taonga, roughly translating as ‘national treasure’ in te reo Maori, pounamu is a sign of status or power and thus the gifting of such an item is of huge cultural and personal significance. There's a rich history of gifting pounamu in New Zealand to show respect, exemplified most recently with the gifting of jade necklaces to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. In New Zealand, we are well acquainted with a unique style of gift giving called 'koha'- a te reo Māori word that can be loosely translated as a gift, offering, donation or even a contribution. Koha will often be for the individual to decide upon its value, for example, a koha entry fee for an art or music show would indicate that the patron could decide for themselves how much to give. The idea being that a reciprocity of spirit will provide the balance, a faith in the communal nature of giving, and less on a trade of equal value. There is something undeniably beautiful about this idea and perhaps it could be therefore said that the true art in giving is to give from the heart without any expectation of a return - a sentiment that resonates powerfully with the Mountain Jade spirit.

As we prepare ourselves for the upcoming festive season - whether you are looking for a gift for someone special or yourself, we hope you find something that will be treasured for generations.

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