Jade Stone 101

When people think of Jade they usually think of China because China has remained a historically important producer of jade and remains an important facet of the Chinese economy. Jade is actually more important in China than other areas although it historically has been used outside of Imperial China for ornamental objects, tools, and weapons Unearthed in areas like Australia, North America, South America, and Europe. Because the stone is so hard it is often integrated into tools and weapons. In large part, due to its beauty, it is also found in historic artifacts of religious importance and ornaments among ruling classes. Interestingly enough, ancient cultures with artifacts that contain Jade all used them independently as an important stone, none having contact with the other or trading with one another.

1. What gemstone family does Jade belong to?

Jade is a gemstone that was originally manufactured into weapons and tools thanks to its strength, but the gemstone has also found its way historically through ornamental objects and talismans thanks to the luster and bright color of the gemstone. While many people associate a rich green color with Jade gemstones, the naturally occurring material can be found in lavender, orange, blue, black, yellow, red, and white.

While there are many Jade objects on the market, they fall into one of two categories that are derived from different minerals:

 

  •  Jadeite
  •  Nephrite
  •  

    It can be difficult to distinguish between jadeite and nephrite which is why it's so common to use the term Jade to encompass both gemstones. The real difference is in the mineral composition. Jadeite is made with pyroxene primarily, which is heavy in aluminum. Nephrite is an amphibole, rich in magnesium. Aside from this difference they look very similar in physical appearance.

     

     

    Jadeite

    Nephrite

    Chemistry

    Pyroxene

    Amphibole

    Color

    Varying shades from white to dark green sometimes including purple, pink, red, yellow, orange, blue, and black

    Colors ranging between white, cream, and dark green

    Luster

    Vitreous to sugary with impurities

    Vitreous to silky

    Diaphaneity

    Translucent to opaque, very rarely semi-transparent

    Translucent to opaque, very rarely semi-transparent

    Uses

    Jade jewelry, ornaments, tools, weapons, gemstones

    Jade jewelry, ornaments, tools, weapons, gemstones

     

    Jade bracelet stack

    Master Craftsman from China worked with Jade that came from Burma at the time and this Jade is known for being harder, denser, and producing a higher luster once it's polished. It is this Jade that has become the preferred material among Artisans and most highly prized among buyers.

    Today, commercial jadeite objects are divided into three types based on the treatment they have been exposed to during the manufacturing process. It's been a common procedure for thousands of years to find ways to improve the appearance of Jade objects through a variety of treatments that improve the stability, color, and luster. Some of these include injecting polymers, adding dye, bleach, acid, or applying heat.

    Type A jadeite

    Type A jadeite are objects that during manufacturing have been treated with a wax coating. This is the most common and traditional treatment. It doesn't impact the value in most cases.

     

    Jade laying on white background

    With this, manufacturers boil the finished jadeite objects in their final form in water and then clean them so that they are ready to be dried and dipped in molten wax. The purpose of the molten wax is to fill in any minute fractures or pores on the surface. Any excess wax outside of these fractured areas is removed and the entire item is buffed to a higher luster. In effect, this smooths out any irregularities and gives a completely smooth finish to the surface of the object.

    Type B jadeite

    Type B jadeite are objects that during manufacturing have been bleached using Hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid. The acid removes any oxidation stains on the surface and gets rid of excess sodium which usually lightens the color. After that, the item is pressurized with wax or resin to do the same thing as type A jadeite manufacturing processes, which is to fill in any fractures or pores on the surface and give a smoother appearance to the final product.

    Woman wearing Jade necklace and bracelets

    The one downside to type B manufacturing for jadeite is that these objects can deteriorate within a few years. The acid treatment makes them particularly brittle and the polymer resins can discolor when exposed to extreme sunlight or heat.

    Type C jadeite

    Type C jadeite are objects that during manufacturing have been exposed to the same treatments as type B but have also been dyed to a specific color. The color dye used for the type C manufacturing will fade with time and with extreme exposure to light and heat.

    2. What is Jade made of?

    Jade is made of specific minerals. Jadeite is a mineral that formed through the process of metamorphism which is associated with metamorphic rocks. There are places around the world where jadeite deposits occur naturally usually along the geologic locations where tectonic plates meet. Most jadeite is found in rocks with a high level of pressure which forces the jadeite deposits to separate.

    3. What are the different types of Jade? Where are they sourced from? How are they sourced?

    Male wearing Jade bracelets

    Historically, prospecting for Jade, the process of finding and retrieving it, was done in steeper areas of drainage basins, usually places where pieces of rocks were found in stream valleys ranging in size from small pebbles to large boulders. The pebbles in the boulders that contain Jade normally have brown weathering rinds around the exterior that mask the interior beauty.

    When searching for these Jade boulders, small windows are usually cut into the rock in order to determine the quality of the material inside. Being able to look inside determines whether it's worth the effort of moving the rock from its location to be refined elsewhere.

    Depending on the size, it was very difficult to transport without damage.  Historically human and animal labor were the only ways to move large boulders which is why it was so important to cut into the stone at the site before moving the boulder just to make sure it was worth the investment.

    16mm Burmese Jade bracelet

    Today however this remains the case in some areas where the equipment that one might use is simply unable to get into the location where the rocks are found. However, in some cases, helicopters with baskets and slings are able to fly into otherwise difficult to reach areas and lower the sling on a cable to the ground where workers can prepare the boulders, move them in place and secure them at which time the helicopter can fly them out of the basin. This is not something that is often used for smaller rocks but oversized boulders that can't be lifted up and carried out by hand. Because the helicopters used for this process are very expensive, the rock has to be a sound investment and in cases like this a single large boulder can be worth thousands of dollars and it's rough form, making it worth the investment.

    In other cases, Jade can be mined from the hard rock deposits left behind in different areas. In an area where large Jade boulders are found it might also leave behind traces of Jade in the rock deposit usually in ancient subduction zones which are now exposed thanks to the weather. Geographically most Jade is found around the rim of the Pacific Ocean where that level of subduction has taken place which is why most Jade is located in New Zealand, Eastern Asia, the United States, Canada, Central America, and South America.

    4. How to spot real Jade? Is there a way for the average person to spot traits in real Jade?

    Woman wearing Jade jewelry

    Jade has many imitations. There are dozens of stones out there like Serpentine, calcite, quartz, and prehnite all of which can look very similar to Jade. A trained eye should be able to identify the distinctive luster associated with Jade that isn't found with less valuable items like quartz or Serpentine. Quartz and Serpentine also lack the hardness of Jade so if you look at intricate carvings they might have extra stress fractures you might notice that multiple pieces had to be glued together because of how fragile the material is. This is not the case with Jade products.

    When buying Jade jewelry, if there is no information on where it was from or the information doesn't tell you that it's from the rim of the Pacific Ocean, it might not be something you should invest in. Similarly, if no information can be found on the type it might not be worth the investment.

    Jadeite buyers need to evaluate the color, transparency, and texture of the jade jewelry they are investigating. The color needs to be examined under fluorescent and incandescent light sources. The level of transparency should be evaluated. Even coloration throughout the stone or at least a pleasing collection of colors for your eye are equally important. What's more, the surface should be finely polished and undistorted. Any fractures in the texture can impact the value.

    Alt=Burmese Jade Natural Gemstone Necklace

    While the finest quality is the Imperial Jade, vibrant emerald green color, remember that there are a range of Jade gemstones out there in attractive colors ranging from lavender to brown to red to orange to yellow. So don't be put off if you notice jade jewelry that is a light violet color or rich ruby red color.

    The transparency ranges from a semi-transparent gemstone to a completely opaque gemstone. The most sought-after jadeite is semi-transparent. But because light penetrates below the surface, the semi-transparent brings with it a Brilliance, sort of glow that increases whatever color the stone already is. The opaque or slightly opaque jadeite stones have cloudy patches that break up this transparency.  Lavender Jade Necklace and Burmese Jade Necklace

    Good jadeite should be a smooth, even texture and when you look at it you should see the interlocking crystals of the stone itself, a crystal structure that lends itself to the exceptional toughness of the gemstone.

    5. What is the most expensive type of Jade and why?

    The price for high-quality jadeite has risen substantially over the last few years according to the Gemological Institute of America. Economically, an increase in middle and upper-class Chinese households has increased the value and price of high-quality jadeite as it is one of the most important stones culturally and spiritually in this particular area.

    Lavender Jade necklace

    Since the original discovery of Burmese Jade, the Chinese have revered the green color, the translucent, sleek design of high-quality jadeite. Today the color, transparency, and texture still play a big role in determining the value and which jade jewelry is most expensive.

    The most expensive type of Jade is type A. Beyond the type, you also have to consider whether it's jadeite or nephrite, and where it was found. Imperial Jade from Burma is the most expensive type of Jade. It is the most expensive because it is the highest quality, the most sought-after color, and remains today the most highly prized source of jadeite around the world.

    As mentioned there are three types of Jade and these three classifications are based upon the manufacturing process. When you are looking into jewelry it's important that the jade jewelry you consider is marketed with the type, type A, type B, or type C so that you know how it was manufactured. There's nothing inherently wrong with lower quality, type C product, or type B product but it's important to know if you have one of those so that you can avoid excessive exposure to heat or sun, and store the jade jewelry properly.

    6. Where is the most expensive Jade sourced from?

    Drone ocean view

    Jadeite from Burma is the most expensive Jade you can find. This level of quality jadeite is almost transparent but with a vibrant, emerald green color. It is this gemstone that is colloquially referred to as Imperial Jade. Historically the Royal Court of China had a standing order for any and all of this material available and today it continues to be one of the most expensive gems in the world.

    7. Can Jade cost more than some diamonds? If so, why?

    Jade can cost more than diamonds in certain areas when it is of higher quality like the Burmese Jade. Burmese Jade remains one of the highest quality variations of this gemstone known for its firmer, denser, and more lustrous shine. The Burmese Jade was the most important and sought-after historically in China and today it continues to be one of the most sought-after varieties. In places where Jade is of particular importance, this quality gemstones can cost more than diamonds.

    8. What are the uses and beliefs of Jade?

    Jade is a very colorful and durable material that can be easily worked into multiple shapes and Polished to a much higher luster than other gemstones which is why jade jewelry is so popular including its use in Jade pendants, Jade necklaces, Jade bracelets, Jade rings, and Jade earrings. These jade jewelry items are usually made with a solid gemstone mixed with other precious metals, diamonds, silver, and gold.

    Jade laying in grass

    Jade is also used to make small sculptures, religious artwork, and ornaments in addition to regular jade jewelry that you see in the store. In places like Europe and the United States emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, and rubies are just a few gemstones that remain more popular than Jade. But in other areas of the world like China, Jade is one of the most precious gemstones.

    Jade Necklace Stack

    For thousands of years, Jade has been the most popular gemstone in China. Chinese Emperors waged war and traded with distant people in order to acquire the best specimens. They remain a very important material for religious art and our Incorporated in gifts given during birthdays, marriages, and anniversaries.

    Historically carved Jade pendants were worn the same as we wear jade jewelry today only they were intended to be protective talismans. Masks crafted from Jade and incense burners carved from Jade have been found in association with religious ceremonies ranging from ancient China to Mesoamerica.

    Throughout history, people have credited Jade with healing things from nightmares to kidney stones.

    Jade brings with it the energy of prosperity, new beginnings, and health. The Jade stone is often seen as a representation of Purity or purification. It's also a stone that offers protection and supports Vitality, abundance, and heart energy. Another meaning for Jade is that of gentleness, Harmony, and balance.

    9. How is Jade used for Jewelry?

    Today, Jade jewelry brings with it a mix of modern designs with antique jewelry designs. Traditional Jade Bangles remain a staple of jade jewelry making and often incorporate other beads or materials like gold. Chinese jade jewelry represents a rich cultural heritage and it typically includes nephrite and jadeite.

    Lavender Jade bracelet

    Once a jade boulder or rock is found, it is considered raw Jade. Raw jade hasn't been manufactured or subject to any manufacturing process yet. It also hasn't been made into jewelry like a Jade bracelet or Jade rings.

    Lavender Jade Necklace

    The larger stones that are recovered from mines around the world usually have the opaque outer layer and that small window through which the interior is verified. Jewelry makers will see the high-quality Jadeite through that window and then have to negotiate based on what they can see. Once the stone has left the market, it takes someone with years of experience to use the proper tools to carve the stone. If the stone is higher-quality Jadeite, carvings usually are simple. The Jade jewelry you get with higher-quality Jadeite is going to be equally simple. The reason being, a high-quality stone deserves to be preserved as much as possible, keeping the body of the stone and letting the stone speak for itself. More intricate carving techniques can take advantage of different colorations especially in Jade that isn't the emerald green color but might have a variety of colors in one stone.

    Jade Necklace and Bracelets

    Depending on what the final product will be, cabochons can be cut from the material, effectively round stones that can then be placed into jewelry like Jade Rings, jade necklace pendants, Jade bracelets, or other materials. China is the leading polishing Center for jadeite which usually comes from cutting factories in Myanmar. Many Cutters in Myanmar still polish jadeite using a hollow bamboo lathe that is treated with a mixture of water and sand. Manufacturers for jade jewelry can carve hololiths which are taken from a single piece of rough Jade into a pendant, bangle, or Jade ring. But cabochons are used for rings and other jade jewelry. When you are buying cabochons, you want to look at the proportions, the thickness, and the symmetry of the Jade. If you are purchasing Jade bracelets or Jade necklaces that are made from round Jade beads, you want to look for matching transparency, size, and symmetrical cuts. All of these are used to produce higher quality jade jewelry.

    Shop our Jade Jewelry Collection Here.

    2 comments

    In Reply to Aarons Mueller,
    Thank you for your knowledge we appreciate it and value your opinion. We would like to assure you, our Jade collection is of quality and has been authenticated by Jade Craftsman with parallel to your collector years. We have spent countless hours of travel to mines and stone sights across the country and around the world. If you have chosen a piece with us that you have in your possession and are questioning it’s authenticity, please reach out to us immediately via our “contact us” page. Lastly, our blog’s purpose was a quick “101” guide and not focusing on the culture surrounding Jade. We will produce a blog of that nature as soon as our creative artisans feel secure in their knowledge. Again, we appreciate your engagement with our content! We stand 100% behind our product.

    PlayHardLookDope June 29, 2020

    Sorry to say, I believe that many of the pieces you are showing are dyed. This is the most common of “fake” jade. Real jade with fake color. While the article is interesting I think it misses the real story of jade culture. As mankind’s original art form " 4000 yr unbroken master to apprentice tradition" craftsmanship lies at the core with types of stone shifting over time. You are not alone in missing the nuance, it is rarely if ever centered upon in articles on jade. My advice to buyers is to focus on the carving and craftsmanship first. In this way you will enjoy every piece you buy. Develop your understanding of the stone over time. There are extremely valuable varieties in almost every color. Understanding how to value the stone can take many years , seeing high quality carving and craftsmanship is much easier and is therefore the best route for beginning investors. As a rule , master carvers will never waste their time on inferior stone so let the master do the picking. Many hope to aquire a priceless treasure in a high quality bangle of strand of beads but those of us with long experience know that this is just successful marketing of and abundant product. The thing that is truly valuable, the resource that is disappearing ,is the artist with 4000 yrs of mastery behind them.
    Now, one of the great things about this tradition is that over the last 30 yrs the craft has gone global and there great carvers to be found on every continent. This is the true bleeding edge of jade culture and is, in my opinion, the field most ripe for incredible investment gains. As a 30 year collector of fine Chinese jades, some of the most valuable and exciting pieces in my collection were carved right here in the USA. This is the fastest growing segment of the art market today. Jade values have risen 1000% in the last 10 yrs and the world is just becoming aware.
    It’s a great time to get in on the newest thing, that just happens to be the oldest thing in art.

    Aarons Mueller June 29, 2020

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