Think about a jade gemstone. What's the first image that pops to mind? It is a vibrant dark green stone that's clear and perfect for royalty (or at least we feel like royalty when we wear it). Jade is one of the more well-known jewels, and it's been around for centuries. But where is jade found? And if you have an amazing piece of jade in your collection, how can you tell it's real? Let's take a look at the history of this gorgeous gemstone and review some tips on what you should know before you buy jade jewelry.
The Origins of Jade
Jade was highly valued in ancient China and played a significant role in the nation's culture and history. The famous Chinese philosopher Confucius referred to jade as "the precious stone of grace." Jade was a symbol of integrity, nobility, purity, loyalty and immortality. In the late 18th century, jade experienced a rebirth in China and was crafted into endless ornamental carvings, earrings, pendants, and necklaces to display the nation's great prosperity.
Other cultures prized this gem as well. Often set in gold, jade was a symbol of wealth and status to classical Romans and was a symbol of love, peace and harmony in early Egypt. South American Mayan and Aztec civilizations valued jade more than gold.
What is jade stone?
We get the word jade from the Spanish phrase piedra de la ijada, which means the 'the stone of the colic.' (In fact, the Mayans and Aztecs believed that jade could cure pain.) jade, or yu, as it's called in China, is a generic name for the mineral materials comprising the gemstone. The two minerals are jadeite (hard jade) and nephrite (soft jade). Both types of minerals are found in metamorphic rocks and made up of tiny interlocking mineral crystals–and the way the crystals connect makes these gems especially strong.
Where is jade Found?
You can find jade in many locations worldwide, so knowing where your jade comes from is essential when determining the value of jade.
- Mined primarily in Myanmar, but small quantities are found in Guatemala.
- Jadeite is rarer and more expensive.
- Mined mainly in Canada, Australia, the United States, and Taiwan.
- Nephrite is pretty common, so it's much more affordable to buy.
Jade of a Different Color
The color green is synonymous with jade – it is, after all, the most common shade of the gemstone. You may be surprised, however, to know that it's not the only color of jade. There are six colors to be exact: green, red, yellow, lavender, black, and white. It's essential to keep in mind that the gem's color is significant in determining the value, so it's beneficial to know each available shade and what makes them authentic.
Green jade — This is a tried and true traditional favorite color. It's also the most expensive and appears in various hues: it can range from a bright and dark green like an emerald to a dazzling yellow-green, like a Granny Smith apple.
Red jade — The most desired color is reddish-brown (though the hues can range from a yellow tint to orange).
Yellow jade — Light as a lemon or dark gold like an ear of corn, yellow jade is one of the rarest types of this gem.
Lavender jade — Purple jade stones appear in almost a sugary texture. Lavender jade ranges from pale violet to a deep plum hue.
Black jade — The finest black jade is glassy in look and feel.
White jade — This color is known as "pure jade." White jade stones can be translucent gray-white or appear in an opaque, chalky white color.
How Valuable is Jade?
Not all jade is created equal. Let's look at a few key factors that affect the value of the gemstone.
Color is key! The most well-known and finest-quality stone (and most expensive) is emerald-green "Imperial jade." It has a transparent, vibrant color that ranges from bluish to slightly yellowish hues of pure green. In ancient dynasties, China's royal court decreed the collection of all gemstones of this quality.
The best jadeite is semi-transparent and cloudy, meaning there is some visibility. Jadeite almost seems to glow due to how light penetrates below the surface of the stone. Jadeite that's completely opaque (meaning you can't see through it) or has cloudy patches is less in demand.
Here's a great way to test the transparency of a stone: try to read newsprint through the gem. Even if the jadeite is dark green, you should still be able to read the print.
The way a stone forms affects the texture of jadeite. The smaller the crystals, the smoother the consistency–and high-quality jadeite has a smooth, even surface.
How to Tell if jade is Real
You're heard the saying, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." When it comes to jade, however, it's best to shop the real deal.
You've heard the saying, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." When it comes to jade, however, it's best to shop the real deal. Below is a checklist to review when searching for the perfect jade stone.
Check for Flaws
- Despite what you may think, flaws are a good thing! Seeing a flaw or two isn't a reason to be concerned and only proves that the jade is genuine.
- Bubbles, however, are a different story. Hold the jade stone under light and take a good look. Any bubbles you see indicate air bubbles – and further suggests the gem isn't real.
- You can also check for flaws by using a jeweler's magnifier, also known as a loupe. This instrument gives you an up-close and more transparent look.
Note: We don't readily recommend this test unless you're doing it at home – and when you're performing a test at home, we advise you do it in such a way that the jade is not damaged.
- Using a needle, knife, or pair of scissors, lightly scratch an underside part of the jade that isn't visible. If a scratch mark remained, the jade might be a fake.
- Genuine jade keeps its cool, so to speak, regardless of the temperature of its environment.
- A good test is to hold a piece of jade in your hand. Feel how cool it is? After a while, the jade will start to warm up in your hand. When that happens, put it down for a few seconds. Genuine jade will again feel cool when you pick it up.
- Take a genuine jade stone and tap it against the piece you're considering purchasing. What does it make for a sound? If it's a soft clinking chime tone, then you have a real piece of jade.
- If you don't have genuine jade to use, you can tap a piece of glass or a small metal object against the item. You should still get a soft clink sound.
Best Ways to Clean jade Jewelry
While jade stone may be tough enough to pass a scratch test, it's quite a delicate gem. We do not recommend using household cleaning supplies or jewelry cleaners when washing your jade jewelry.
Old-fashioned soap and water — Warm water mixed with mild soap is the perfect recipe to clean your stones. Another thing to keep in mind: swimming pools and hot tubs are not suitable for these gems. Chlorine and bleach can ruin your beautiful jade jewelry, so remove them before taking a swim or soak.
Microfiber cloths for the win — The soft texture of a microfiber polishing cloth is gentle on jewelry and gives your jade stones a smooth, supple look.
Keep them separated — As we previously said above, jade gems are delicate. Storing them alongside other jewelry increases the risk of harm. Protect your jade jewelry by keeping it in your Ross-Simons presentation box.
Keep in mind how you wear your jade — Again, jade is delicate, and accidentally banging your pieces against other objects (on tables, other jewelry you may wear) can permanently damage your jewelry and ruin its value.
Tale of Two Jades
What's better than one type of jade? Two types of jade! Before you buy, you should know the two types: jadeite and nephrite. And while they're both called "jade," they're really two separate gemstones.
|Color||It ranges from white to dark green and includes shades of purple, pink, red, yellow, orange, blue, and black.||It varies from white and cream to dark green shades.|
|Luster||A glass-like appearance.||A waxy, silky appearance.|
|Diaphaneity (the ability to transmit light)||Ranges from translucent to opaque.|
|Common Uses||Jade jewelry, ornaments, tools, and weapons.|