I was chuffed to come upon this lowly dandelion, made lofty by Fabergé, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts when I visited on 1 December.
And it’s made with nutritious asbestos!
I had to look up nephrite, which is a magnesium-rich amphibole, composed of the minerals tremolite or actinolite. It’s sometimes called jade, but so is jadeite, a kind of aluminum-rich pyroxene, which is rarer. Nephrite’s colour is usually grey or green, but it can also be yellow, brown, or white, and the white or cream versions are called mutton fat jade, which is a traditional Chinese favourite. (More at the International Gem Society.)
The word nephrite comes from the Greek nephrós, for kidney, because the mineral was thought to aid in healing kidney disorders. And interestingly, dandelion (Taraxacum spp) leaves can be used to help kidney function; the plant is also used as a diuretic, for liver problems and high blood pressure, as a mild appetite stimulant, and to improve digestion (per Penn State Hershey Medical Center).
It was a happy surprise to find this dandelion among the Imperial Easter eggs created for the Russian czar and czarina, but it doesn’t take a Fabergé to make a dandelion beautiful in my eyes.
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