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Jade refers to two different minerals: Jadeite and Nephrite. To tell these two stones apart from other gemstones, all you really need to do is get a specific gravity measurement (i.e. a ratio between how much the stone weighs in air versus in water). Jadeite is 3.33 and Nephrite is 2.95. Simulants will vary. For e.g. Quartz is 2.56. Seasoned gemstone enthusiasts will also be able to identify jade based on its color, luster, inclusions and other physical features.

A quick (but sometimes destructive) test is to use your swiss blade to scratch the jade. (Do this at an inconspicuous spot, just in case!) Jade is harder than steel and should not scratch. In some cases, there may be a line of metal that adheres onto the rock. Examine it well so as not to confuse it with a true scratch. Many simulants are softer than jade and will yield to a steel blade.

There are some other fast (and non-destructive) tests & observations you can conduct at home that might shed some light on whether you have jade or something else.

Hold the stone in your hand. Does it feel cool to touch? (You may have seen Chinese or Burmese people touch jade to their cheeks to test its coolness as a sign of authenticity.) Observe the texture of the material. If there is a fracture, the texture should be splintery and rough. If it shows fairly smooth flat surfaces and “faults” (cleavage planes), you may have another type of green stone. e.g. Amazonite. If it is polished, does it look like it has a “dimpled” skin? Can you see tiny veining on the surface? If it is translucent, does the material look slightly fibrous? Jadeite tends to have brighter hues and a shinier polish than nephrite, which is more muted in color and subdued in luster.

Be careful! Even if you have “real jade”, take note that Jadeite is commonly treated. A-jade is natural jade that has not been treated in any way. B is jade that has been bleached. If it is dyed, it is considered C-jade. Even experts run into difficulties identifying treated jades. At the end of the day, sending it to a gem laboratory is probably the best option.


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