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  : : Jadeite Information

Jadeite Gemstone Information

About Jadeite - History and Introduction

Jadeite is a pyroxene mineral and one of the two types of pure jade. The other is known as nephrite. Jadeite is the rarer of the two, and as a result it is more precious. The most valuable form of jadeite is a striking and even emerald green known as "imperial jadeite". The history of jadeite goes back several thousand years when it was first used to make weapons and tools because of its toughness. Jadeite was highly prized by the Mayans and Aztecs, in fact the name "jade" originates from the Spanish "piedra de ijada", meaning "stone for the pain in the side". It was thus named after Spanish explorers noticed natives of Central America holding pieces of jade to their sides to cure ills. In Chinese, jade is known as "yu", which means "heavenly" or "imperial". Therefore, it is considered to be the imperial gem in Chinese culture. In China, jade was found in the tombs of Shang kings.

Green Jadeite
Jadeite
Identifying Jadeite Back to Top

Jadeite can be distinguished from other similar materials, such as nephrite, by its hardness and density. There are a lot of other materials fraudulently sold as jadeite and it is difficult to identify jadeite by outside appearance. The most reliable method of identifying jadeite from other substances is by testing its specific gravity. A simple test to distinguish jadeite from nephrite is a chime test. Nephrite emits a musical tone when it is struck, whereas jadeite does not.

Jadeite; Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top

The main source of jadeite is Myanmar (Burma), which is also the main source of imperial jadeite. However, imperial jadeite has also been found in Guatemala. Jadeite is also found in Japan, Canada, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, Cuba and the USA.

Buying Jadeite and Determining Jadeite Gemstone Value Back to Top

Jadeite Colour

Jadeite ranges in colour. It occurs in green, white, orange, yellow, lavender, grey and black. The purest form of jadeite is white and as with other coloured gemstones, colours are a result of impurities. The most highly valued jadeite is a vivid emerald green and is translucent. The emerald green hue is a result of chromium, which also gives emeralds their beautiful green colour. Emerald green jadeite is known as imperial jadeite and only occurs in Burma (Myanmar). Jadeite can be more than one colour in a single gem. Jadeite in which the colour is evenly distributed is highly valued. However, colour preferences vary depending on the region. For example, in the West, deep and vivid green jadeite is preferred, but in the Far East, pure white or yellow jadeite with a pink tone is prized, along with green imperial jadeite.

Jadeite Clarity and Lustre

Jadeite lustre is vitreous (glassy). When polished it appears vitreous to oily. Jadeite is said to have a more vitreous (glassy) lustre than nephrite which has a more resinous (oily) lustre. The most valuable jadeite is translucent. Uneven colour distribution can often be mistaken for inclusions.

Jadeite Cut and Shape

Jadeite is extremely versatile and it can be carved into extremely intricate shapes. It is carved into a variety of traditional Chinese figures, such as Buddhas, dogs, dragons, bats, butterflies, peaches and discs. It is also made into all manner of practical items, such as buttons, cups, plates and salt and pepper pots. Jadeite is used to make beautiful ornaments and is also fashioned into beads, cabochons for rings, brooches and fancy pendants. Entire bangles are also fashioned from jadeite.

Jadeite Treatment

Jadeite is often bleached with acid to remove brown pigments. Bleaching causes jadeite to become porous and more prone to breakage, so after bleaching the jadeite is often impregnated with a polymer, which fills the fractures and improves its appearance. A "Chelsea filter" can be used to ascertain whether jadeite has been artificially dyed. When looked at through such a filter, dyed jadeite will show red. The Chinese jade industry uses a grading system to classify jadeite by the amount of enhancement it has received. According to the system, grade A jadeite is not dyed nor impregnated but may have received a coating, which is considered stable. Grade B jadeite may have been impregnated and bleached but is not dyed. Grade C jadeite is dyed and impregnated, and grade D jadeite is not real jadeite. All reputable jade suppliers will declare any treatments or enhancements. Although a great deal of jadeite is enhanced, natural, untreated jadeite can be found.

Jadeite Gemmological Properties: Back to Top
Chemical Formula: NaAlSi2O6 Sodium aluminium silicate
Crystal Structure: Monoclinic
Colour: Green, white, orange, yellow, lavender, grey and black
Hardness: 6.5 - 7 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.652 - 1.688
Density: 3.30 - 3.38
Cleavage: Rarely observed due to lack of crystals
Transparency: Opaque, translucent
Double Refraction or Birefringence: 0.020
Lustre: Waxy, greasy
Fluorescence: Greenish: Very weak; whitish: Glimmer

Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemmology-related terms.

Jadeite: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
Omphacite jade
Omphacite Jade

Nephrite is the other type of jade that can easily be confused with jadeite. Nephrite is the most common form of jade and is softer than jadeite, at 6 - 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Nephrite can also be distinguished from jadeite by its lower specific gravity and different crystal structure. Nephrite also differs from jadeite in its chemical composition; nephrite is calcium magnesium iron silicate, whereas jadeite is sodium aluminium silicate. Chloromelanite, also known as "maw-sit-sit", is made of a mineral called kosmochlor, which is related to jadeite. It also contains some jadeite.

Jadeite should not be confused with aventurine, which is misleadingly sold as "Indian jade". Also, "Russian jade" and "Wyoming jade" are types of nephrite. "Wyoming jade" can also refer to another substance composed of tremoite and albite. Chrysoprase is also passed off as "Australian jade", but has a lower density than jadeite and forms as trigonal crystals, whereas jadeite crystals are monoclinic. Other minerals that are associated with jadeite are serpentine, nepheline, calcite, quartz, aragonite, glaucophane and vesuvianite. Serpentine looks similar to jadeite, but serpentine is softer, less dense and feels greasy to the touch.

Jadeite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top

The Mayans and Aztecs believed that jadeite could cure pains in the side of the body. This is where the name "jade" originated, since early Spanish explorers named it "piedra de ijada", meaning "stone for the pain in the side". The Chinese named jade "yu", meaning "heavenly stone", "imperial gem" or "precious gem", and in China, jadeite symbolizes goodness, beauty and purity. In China, jadeite is considered to be so precious that there is a Chinese saying that goes, "gold is valuable; jade is priceless". Jadeite is thought to possess health-strengthening properties and encourage longevity. The Chinese often carve jadeite into traditional figures that bring further meaning, such as dragons, which are symbols of power and prosperity. In feng shui, jadeite is thought to influence prosperity and health. Jadeite is thought by the Chinese to possess healing properties, and bangles that are carved from a single piece of jadeite are thought to protect the wearer. There are numerous stories told of jadeite bangle wearers becoming seriously ill or being involved in accidents. In each of these stories, the bangle broke at a critical time and then the wearer miraculously recovered from their illness or emerged from the accident free from injury. It is said that jadeite bangles absorb negative energy, thus protecting those who wear them. It is also believed that jadeite reflects the life of the wearer, becoming more brilliant and bright during good times and losing its lustre in times of suffering. In astrology, jadeite is associated with the sign of Taurus. Furthermore, jadeite is believed to allow its wearer to open their heart in readiness for love.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and does not represent the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.
Jadeite Gemstone and Jewellery Design Ideas Back to Top

The versatility of jadeite makes it ideal for a variety of uses. Jadeite is often cut en cabochon, for rings, or into spheres or discs, for necklaces. It is also carved into intricate ornaments that can be worn as brooches or other ornaments. Jadeite is ideal for both men and women. It can be paired with diamonds and set in gold or silver. For men, popular jadeite jewellery items are chunky rings, tie pins, cuff links and pendants. For ladies, jadeite can be worn as pendants, beaded necklaces or bracelets, charm bracelets, bangles, rings, earrings or hair ornaments. In the East, jadeite jewellery is even given to young children, in the form of bangles.

Note: Buy coloured gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Coloured stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.

Famous Jadeite Gemstones Back to Top

There are culturally and artistically interesting pieces of jadeite that have reached high prices in several corners of the world. A beautiful vivid green jadeite beaded necklace, known as the "doubly fortunate necklace" was sold at Christie's in 1997 for an amazing $9.3 million. Its name refers to the owners' fortunes doubling each time the source boulder was cut. There are also historically significant jadeite items displayed in museums all over the world. One such example is in the National Museum of Korea in Seoul, South Korea. It is a fifth century gold crown, which features comma-shaped jadeite beads, called "gokok". Another famous piece of jadeite is the Jadeite Cabbage, which was carved from a piece of jadeite. It is an amazingly true-to-life colour representation of a Chinese cabbage and features camouflaged insects in its leaves. It is displayed at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan. Another exquisitely carved jadeite item is the famous 50 cm tall Jade Dragon Vase, carved from lavender and green Burmese jadeite. It is exhibited in the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, USA. Both the Jadeite Cabbage and the Jade Dragon Vase are stunning examples of how finely and delicately jadeite can be carved. Also a green jadeite Maya Maize God pendant from Mexico is part of the display at the National Museum of the American Indian, USA. Additionally, a grey Mexican Olmec jadeite mask is part of the collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, USA.

Jadeite Gemstone Jewellery Care and Cleaning Back to Top

How to clean your gemstonesAlthough jadeite is a tough material, it should be cared for properly in order to maintain its lustre. To clean your jadeite, simply use soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue. As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. Always remove any jewellery or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities such as sports. Store jadeite away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewellery box.

  • First Published: February-11-2014
  • Last Updated: June-19-2014
  • © 2005-2014 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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