Jade is a generic term for two different gems, nephrite and jadeite. The darling of China, it is pronounced, yu, there. The actual name is derived from the Spanish ‘piedra de ijada’, meaning loin-stone because jade was thought to have healing qualities for kidney ailments. Jadeite is extremely tough and resistant because of its tight growth of tiny interlocking grains. Nephrite, a variety of the mineral actinolite, is even tougher, due to its composition of fibrous crystals inter-twinned in a tough compact mass. Nephrite usually has a darker and less saturated green color than jadeite.
Hardness: Jade measures between 6.5 and 7.0 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Color: Jade comes in many diverse tones of green, but can also be found in shades of grey, white, black, yellow, violet, and orange.
Birthstone: Jade is listed as the mystical birthstone for the month of March and the birthstone for the Sun Sign Virgo.
Scarcity: While jadeite once was more common, today fine quality jadeite is much more rare and therefore, valuable. It is used primarily in fine jewelry. Nephrite, in contrast, is commonly available and therefore tends to be much less expensive.
Value: The value of jade is generally determined by the intensity of its color, texture, clarity and its transparency. In different parts of the world, different colors and shades of green are valued. In the Far East, white or a fine yellow with a delicate pink undertone is highly regarded. In Europe and the United States, emerald green, spinach green and apple green are highly esteemed. No matter where you live, it is the emerald green jade that is most valued.
Nephrite and jadeite tend to fetch different prices, with jadeite being the more valuable of the two. While most gemstones today are gauged by their carat weight, jade is usually sold by the piece. Well-carved and well-colored jade are among the most expensive stones that exist in the world today.
Most Common Cuts: Jade is not transparent, but has a fine luster, and therefore it is best shaped into a dome or cabochon shape. Round, cylindrical and flat shapes have been combined to make striking necklaces, as well. Throughout the centuries, jade has also been used to carve many figures.
Chemical Formula: NaAlSi2O6 sodium aluminum silicate/ Ca2(Mg,Fe)5(Si4O11)2(OH)2 basic calcium magnesium iron silicate is the formula for jade.
Synthetic Varieties: Jade may be enhanced and this process is sometimes referred to as “stabilization”. There are plenty of “fakes” on the market and most stones that are sold as jade but are not, are made from glass or resin.
History: Jade has a long history and sources tell us that it was being mined as early as 6000 BC. in China. Among the earliest known artifacts excavated from prehistoric sites have been ornaments with beads and buttons. As technologies advanced, jade was carved into ornaments and decorative objects as well as used for weapons and tools. In the Yin Ruins of the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC to 1050 BC) jade ornaments were unearthed in the tomb of the Shang kings. China has long considered it the “imperial gem”. Jade became a favorite material for making Chinese scholars’ objects, such as rests for calligraphy brushes, as well as the mouthpieces of some opium pipes. While the Chinese widely adopted this gem, it was also being used and treasured in other countries from the earliest of times. For example, The Janist temple of Kolanpiak in Andra Pradesh, India is home to a 1.5 meter high sculpture made from a the single largest jade rock in the world. The use of jade was also a long-term tradition in Korea from 50 BC to 688 AD.
It was not until 1863 that mineralogists in France discovered that jade consists of two separate, distinct minerals, jadeite and nephrite. Today jades are used in many different decorations, carving, and art pieces and as jewelry.
Rumored Healing Properties: The qualities of jade have long been said to bring one love, joy, and happiness. It has also been said to bring creativity and mental agility, balance and success. Jade is also been touted as a protective stone, guarding against accidents and misfortune. For physical ailments, it said to be particularly helpful for kidney, heart and stomach issues.