Jade Gemstone Information
The jade gemstone has a long and storied history. Many consider the stone incredibly opulent, and some even associate it with royalty. Jade's beauty has allowed it to remain popular. Jade stone jewelry remains as fashionable now as ever, especially since there are so many jade stone colors available.
If you want to find out more about the gemstone jade, including the stone's properties, history, coloring, and more, here's what you need to know.
By Simon Eugster --Simon 17:50, 11 April 2006 (UTC) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=697548
Technically, jade isn't just one thing, and it isn't actually a gemstone. Instead, jade is a mineral, and the name applies to two different ones: jadeite and nephrite.
Both of these minerals are tough and feature crystals in their structure. However, their chemical compositions are very different. The different colors of jade are caused by some of those differences, as well as the stone's overall makeup.
While the color of a piece of jade could count as a property, there are enough jade stone colors around that breaking them out is the better move. Each one can have slightly different characteristics beyond the hue variations. Additionally, specific colors are limited to either jadeite or nephrite, while others are not.
Other nearby minerals or specific chemical processes, such as oxidation, can play a role in a stone's final coloring. Here's a look at some of the jade variants you might find today.
Usually, when people think of jade, it's the green version that springs to mind. It's the most common hue around, which is why it rose to prominence and became associated with the gemstone.
When a piece of jade is green, it can actually be jadeite or nephrite. Both minerals can produce green-hued stones, though fine-grained, rich-toned green jadeite specimens are usually considered the more valuable variant.
As for the coloring, green jade can come in a variety of hues. Lighter, softer colors are just as likely as deeper, more vibrant shades. Additionally, depending on the mineral involved, the stone may not be a true green. It could lean toward yellow or brown, for example.
On the opposite side of the color spectrum, red jade is another popular version of the jadeite stone. Usually, the most valuable gemstones lean toward the reddish-brown side, such as a brick-red hue. However, they can have orange or yellow tints as well, though those stones may not be as valuable.
It is important to note that some red jade is heat treated. The process makes the coloring more vibrant but does lower the stone's translucence. That makes treated stones less valuable than their natural counterparts.
Purple jade is a form of jadeite. It can include a variety of shades, ranging from a gentle lavender to a rich plum. However, the lavender stones are more valuable, and actually only come in behind the high-quality green jades when it comes to desirability.
Nephrite can take on a yellow hue depending on the amount of iron and magnesium that is present in the stone. When it comes to affordability, yellow jade tends to win. It isn't as rare or as desirable as some of the other colors, bringing the price down.
One of the nephrite colors you may find is black. The coloring tends to be incredibly rich, and the higher value pieces have glassy surfaces with a limited amount of texture.
Sometimes called "pure jade," white jade is usually fairly translucent, featuring a white to gray or somewhat chalky appearance. To make this jade look its best, a substantial amount of polishing is necessary. Otherwise, it can be a bit lackluster.
The History of Jade
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Nephrite is the toughest known mineral around and is even stronger than steel. Back in Neolithic times, this made the stone ideal for a range of purposes, including making a knife or ax blades.
However, its beauty led to other uses—ornamental carvings with the stone date back to the same period, for instance. Jade jewelry has also been around for thousands of years. The Maya, Aztec, Chinese, and Maori cultures all used the gemstone for a variety of items, including some of religious significance.
It wasn't until relatively recently (1863) that anyone noticed that the term "jade" was being applied to two different minerals. However, the Chinese seemingly realized that the minerals had different characteristics much earlier. Around 1750, the Chinese were importing jadeite from Myanmar for certain pieces, favoring it over the local nephrite at times.
Between 1861 and 1908, during the rule of Empress Cixi, the empress was such a fan of high-quality green jade that she would actively collect the finest pieces. Chinese carvers began referring to her preferred stone as "imperial jade," as a result.
Where Jade is From
Jade originates from several areas of the world. You can find nephrite in China, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and Guatemala. When it comes to the preferred jadeite, that is mined in Myanmar (formerly Burma). However, jadeite is also available from China, Guatemala, and Russia.
More often than not, jade stones are polished, not faceted. You'll find cabochons and beads with relative ease, as well as some pieces carved into shapes. However, that doesn't mean faceted jade isn't available, just that it isn't as widely available on the market.
Jade makes its way into nearly every kind of jewelry piece. Necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings are all incredibly popular. Carved pendants are also readily available.
As for supporting metals, you'll find jade jewelry featuring most common options. Yellow gold, white gold, and silver are all widely used. With a little bit of searching, you can find jewelry featuring jade and rose gold. Some higher-end pieces might even use platinum, so that is on the table as well.
Jade Gemstone Meaning
As for any jade metaphysical properties, some belief systems assign meanings to the stone. Jade may be associated with mental clarity, wisdom, or intuition. Historically, jade talismans were considered protective, leading to the stone being featured in ceremonial masks, incense burners, and other religious items.
In some traditions, the yellow jade meaning focuses on optimism, courage, and identity. It's associated with a sense of personal power and the ability to reach one's goals. Purple jade is thought by some to promote happiness and joy. At times, it's even associated with a sense of humor, or, at least, the ability to maintain one during trying times.
Regardless of many of the beliefs, it's important to understand that there isn't any proof that holding or wearing any stone, including jade, provides any benefits. You can't rely on gemstones to treat or prevent any disease, mental health condition, or physical ailment. But, typically, wearing or holding jade doesn't pose any risk.
Stones Similar to Jade
Sometimes referred to as "olive jade" or "new jade," green serpentine is a good stand-in for jade. In fact, some less scrupulous gemstone sellers may even try to pass it off as genuine jade if the piece is high-quality. Prehnite, aventurine, chrysoprase, and grossular garnets are similarly used as green jade substitutes.
Some jaspers can look like jade (or vice versa). However, that tends to vary from piece to piece. You can also say the same for specific agate stones. Additionally, at times, chalcedony and sugilite can work if you're looking for purple jade replacements.
Malaysia jade isn't actually jade but can resemble it. In reality, the stones are dyed quartz. Opaque dolomite marble is similar in that it's a stone that's dyed to look like different kinds of jade, typically having vibrant coloring.
Smithsonite can look at a lot like jade as well. However, it's incredibly rare and very soft, so it isn't typically found in jewelry and usually comes with massive price tags.