Omphacite Jade Gemstone Information
About Omphacite Jade - History and Introduction
Omphacite jade belongs to a large family of rock-forming pyroxene mineral silicates. The pyroxene group is most famous for jadeite, the rarest and most valuable type of jade. Other lesser-known pyroxene members also include augite, spodumene (kunzite and hiddenite) and diopside. Omphacite jade was first described in Bavaria, Germany in 1815. Its name was derived from the Greek word for 'unripe grape' in reference to its typical green color. The chemical composition of omphacite lies between that of sodium-rich jadeite and calcium-rich augite. Omphacite shares many gemological similarities with jadeite, and for years, many historical jade pieces thought to be jadeite were actually later discovered to be composed of omphacite.
For many years, the name 'jade' was used only in reference to jadeite or nephrite, but more recently, the term 'jade' has opened up to encompass a variety of different types of jade rock, including maw-sit-sit, jade-albite and omphacite jade. Generally, to be classified as jade, materials should contain at least 20% to 80% jadeite; but many specimens composed entirely of omphacite are now being classified as jade. However, according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and Gubelin Gem Lab, only green colored omphacite materials may be traded as 'omphacite jade' or simply as 'jade'.
Identifying Omphacite Jade Back to Top
Omphacite jade is a pyroxene mineral with a chemical formula somewhere between that of jadeite and augite: (Ca,Na)(Mg,Fe2+,Al)Si2O6. The term 'omphacite jade' can be applied to green varieties of omphacite. It has a brittle tenacity and exhibits typical pyroxene cleavage at near 90°. Omphacite crystals are often twinned and intergrown belonging to the same crystal system as jadeite. Omphacite jade has very weak pleochroism and fluorescence. It is typically slightly translucent and exhibits a silky luster when polished. In most cases, distinguishing omphacite from jadeite requires advanced Raman spectrum analysis, since both minerals share many similarities.
Omphacite Jade; Origin and Sources Back to Top
Omphacite jade is mined from numerous regions of the world. Some of the most well-known sources and origins include Austria, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, China, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan and the United States (California).
Buying Omphacite Jade and Determining Omphacite Jade Value Back to Top
Omphacite Jade Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Omphacite Jade: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
Omphacite is a member of the large group of pyroxene minerals, which also includes jadeite, spodumene, kunzite, hiddenite, diopside and augite. Other lesser-known pyroxene gemstones include rhodonite, enstatite and hypersthene. Omphacite is also considered to be a type of jade that is closely associated with nephrite, jade-albite and chloromelanite.
Some possibilities for confusion include other green gemstones, such as jadeite, nephrite, kosmochlor and serpentine.
Omphacite Jade Mythology, Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Back to Top
As a form of jade, omphacite carries many of the beliefs and legends as other forms of jade. The Mayans and Aztecs believed jade could cure pain. In fact, the name 'jade' originated from Spanish explorers who named it 'piedra de ijada', which translates loosely as 'stone for the pain in the side'.
The Chinese refer to jade as 'yu', which means 'heavenly stone'. Jade is thought to possess health-strengthening properties and encourage longevity. In feng shui, jade is thought to influence prosperity and health. Many Asian cultures hold jade with the highest regard. It is even considered by some to be more valuable than gold and diamonds. Jade is believed to hold numerous healing powers and the ability to protect its wearers from evil or bad luck.
Omphacite Jade Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
The versatility of omphacite jade makes it ideal for a variety of uses. However, owing to its rarity, it is not often found in local retail jewelry stores. Omphacite jade is often cut en cabochon, like jadeite and nephrite and it is perfectly suitable for all types of jewelry, including rings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, pins and brooches. It is often carved into intricate designs that can be worn as amulets or talismans, and other natural objects such as flowers and animals.
Omphacite is slightly softer than quartz, but due to its dense structure, it is actually quite tough and resistant to most wear-and-tear. It is an excellent gemstone for men, though it is just as frequently worn by women as well. It mixes well with other gems and looks especially stunning set in white gold, platinum or silver. For men, popular jewelry designs include bold cabochon rings, tie pins, cuff links and pendants. In many Asian countries, jade is often worn and given to young children in the form of pure jade bangles and anklets.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.
Omphacite Jade Gemstone Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Although omphacite jade is a tough material, it does require some care in order to maintain its attractive luster. It is considered to be soft compared to most other jewelry gemstones, so it can be easily scratched. To minimize scratches, remove omphacite jewelry before exercising, playing sports or engaging in harsh household chores, such as dishwashing. Avoid the use of harsh chemicals and cleaners when cleaning your omphacite. To clean your omphacite, simply use warm soapy water and a soft cloth.
Be sure to rinse well after cleaning to remove soapy residue. As with most gemstones, avoid the use of ultrasonic cleaners and steamers. When storing omphacite gemstones, store them away from other gemstones. It is best to wrap stones individually using a soft cloth and place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.
- First Published: March-22-2013
- Last Updated: May-30-2014
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