If you grew up in New Zealand, you either own a pounamu necklace, have a friend who has one or you were kind enough to gift one to someone.
Pounamu is the Te Reo Māori word for greenstone also known as jade. In Māori culture it's considered taonga (treasure) and it is traditionally gifted rather than purchased by and for yourself.
I learned from a friend that as part of tradition, you should try to wear it for at least twenty-four hours before gifting it. This keeps the stone warm so that when the other person wears it they receive that warmth as well. They also mentioned either saying a few words, like a prayer or even singing a song when gifting it. I can't quite remember the reason for that, but it sounds pretty special regardless.
During Ryan's last visit here, we wanted to honour our engagement by gifting each other a piece of pounamu, that and we always wanted to have our own pounamu. We wore the pounamu around our own necks for twenty-four hours before gifting it to each other at Piha Beach during sunset. Our friends even sang Ka Waiata Ki a Maria while we exchanged the necklaces.
For Ryan, we have the Toki. A symbol of mana (strength). For Priscilla, we have the Twist. A symbol of infinity and the bonding of two people. Very fitting for two people who recently just got engaged right!?
Just because it is in New Zealand doesn't mean it's sourced here. If you are wanting something from New Zealand, make sure you ask the people at the store. At the Greenstone & Paua Factory, they differentiated the stones by the name. Those labeled "greenstone" were made in New Zealand, those labeled "jade" were sourced elsewhere. It's just something to be aware of in case where it's from matters to you :)
We'd like to thank our friends Cathryne and Raymund for helping us out with this. You guys are the MVPs!