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Jades - Nephrite and Jadeite

Updated on April 16, 2010

Jade Rings and Pendants

Jade rings and pendants
Jade rings and pendants

Jade Stones

Jade refers to two different minerals: Nephrite and Jadeite. Both of these jade stones are hard to distinguish as they are very similar in appearance. Both variations of jade are very hard and tough stones which do not break or chip easily. What makes jadeite a very tough material is that it is composed of microscopic interlocking crystals. Nephrite is actually a variety of the mineral actinolite and is composed of fibruos cristals inter-twinned in a tough compact mass. The essential elements of jadeite are aluminum, oxygen, sodium, silicon and iron. Other impurities which may contained in jadeite are manganese, titanium, magnesium, chromium, potassium, calcium and water.

Difference between Nephrite and Jadeite

Jadeite is rarer, more valued and therefore makes it more expensive than nephrite. Jadeite is found in a few places in the world, while nephrite deposits can be found in all parts around the world, even in the United States. Jadeite can have the full range of jade's colors, while nephrite is normally only creamy white and green. The finest jadeite is semi-transparent, while opaque are the lower qualities. To enhance the translucency of the stone, sometimes jadeite is cut into very thin pieces.

Jewelries accessories made from jade

Jade rings and Chinese jade dragon
Jade rings and Chinese jade dragon

Jade in China

Over 3000 years ago, nephrite was imported into China and it became the actual true jade of ancient China. The stone was one of the most prized of all Chinese possession and it was used for ritualistic purposes, tools, weapons, utensils and as a jewelry stone. Jade was known in China as 'yu', the 'royal gem' and the Chinese described the precious jade stone as the “Stone of Heaven”. It has always had a very special significance to the long history of Chinese art and culture, roughly comparable with that of diamond or gold in the West. The translucent creamy white nephrite (or also called as “mutton fat” jade) was highly valued because of its purity. Today, jade is still regarded as a symbol of the luck, the precious and the beautiful. It embodies the Confucian virtues of justice, wisdom, compassion, courage and modesty, yet it also symbolises the female-erotic. They are an eternal symbol of an ancient civilization.

Imperial Jade

Evenly colored, translucent emerald green jadiete is called Imperial Jade and it is especially desirable to knowledgeable buyers. Imperial jade is known as the most valuable form of jade and it is found in Burma (upper Myanmar) near Tawmaw and Hpakon, Russia, China and Guatemala. A fine piece will have no internal fractures. The intense green of the imperial jade is due to a small amount of chromium. Do be careful as many unscrupulous gem dealers like to dye white jade to the color of the imperial jade or other preferred shades and sell it for higher prices.

Neither stone is very hard, if compared to diamond, sapphire or ruby. Diamond has hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale while jadeite only ranks at about 7. Because nephrite is softer than jadeite, it ranks at about 6.5 on the Mohs scale. A jadeite which has any internal fractures would reduce its value, and in order to check for that it must be examined with a microscope. Jades also appear in white and mottled green, and the rarer colors of pink, yellow, purple and even black. The range of greens are light to dark, grayish, creamy and also white. In Russia, near Lake Baikal, a leek green variety called "Russian Jade" is found.

Jade is listed as the Mystical birthstone for people who born in the month of March andd the birthstone for the Sun Sign Virgo.
See the complete List of Birthstones.


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    • Leptirela profile image

      Leptirela 7 years ago from I don't know half the time

      amazing :)

      great hub

      thank you :)

    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      beautiful hub work thanks

    • profile image

      trose 7 years ago

      I had no idea Jade could be so beautiful. Wow!

    • lupandiomo profile image

      lupandiomo 7 years ago from nairobi,kenya.

      wonderful hub there. thankz for your insightful article,Susan. the stones really sounded beautiful. it reminded me of my good old geography- rocks and minerals- days in school and a trip to the rift valley in kenya.look forward to reading more of your hubs in future.