Jade has been known and treasured for more than 7,000 years. But only in 1863 was it discovered that jade is actually not a single mineral. What was traditionally called jade is in fact two separate and distinct minerals: jadeite and nephrite.
Nephrite is the more common form of jade. Nephrite ranges in color from mid- to dark-green or grey-green, but it can also be white, yellowish or reddish. Nephrite is slightly softer than jadeite; nephrite is 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale, while jadeite is 6.5-7. They have quite different chemical compositions as well; nephrite is a calcium magnesium iron silicate while jadeite is a sodium aluminum silicate. The two minerals also have different densities. Jadeite has a density of 3.30-3.38 while nephrite is less dense at 2.90-3.03.
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