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Jade (Jadeite & Nephrite)

         Jade refers to two different minerals---Jadeite and Nephrite Both stones are rocks (aggregates)—masses of tightly interlocking crystals. However, they have different chemical compositions and p0roerties. Jadeite is a little harder and denser, and as a result can take a higher polish than nephrite. Neither stone is very hard, compared to diamond and ruby. However, both jades are unusually tough---resistant to breakage and chipping. Nephrite, however, is slightly stronger.

         Jadeite is more valuable and rare than nephrite. When it’s very translucent and has a strong emerald-green color, it’s often called imperial jade. Jadeiter is found in a variety of colors---lavender, white, gray, yellow orange, brownish-red, black and many shades of green. Today, jadeite is usually the jade chosen for fine jewelry. Its intrinsic value is generally the basis for its price. Nephrite, on the other hand, is mainly valued for its antiquity and carving excellence  

          Nephrite is plentiful and most of it is grayish green---typically forest green or olive green. It can also be white, gray, black, brown, yellow or beige. Most nephrite is very affordable. For example, you can easily find nephrite costume jewelry ranging from $10 to $50. The antique value of old nephrite pieces often outweighs their intrinsic worth.

Care tips: Jade can be safely cleaned in soapy water, ultrasonics and steamers. It reacts slightly to warm acids. Since jade has a lower hardness than gems such as sapphire, emerald and topaz, it can get scratched more easily. Jewelers can eliminate the scratches and restore the luster by polishing the jade. Jade, however, is very durable. In fact, there is no other gem that’s as resistant to breakage and chipping as jade.




Chemical composition

Ca2(Mg, Fe)5Si6O22(OH)


Mineral composition

Amphibole Group

Pyroxene Group

Crystalline structure






Specific gravity


about 3.33

Refractive index



Polished surfaces

Smooth with a waxy sheen

Hard and lustrous


Evenly distributed; translucent
white, dark green, black

Spotty or clustered distribution; white, grey, green

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