Jade is actually two separate gems: nephrite and jadeite. In China, a pierced jade disk is a symbol of heaven.\
ade has its cultural roots in the smoke-dimmed caves and huts that sheltered prehistoric humans. Around the world, Stone Age workers shaped this toughest of gems into weapons, tools, ornaments, and ritual objects. Their carvings invoked the powers of heaven and earth and mystic forces of life and death.
The philosopher wrote that jade is like virtue and its brightness represents heaven.
The traditional jade flat disc with a hole in the middle, known as a “bi,” symbolizes heaven.
The character for jade is one of the oldest in written Chinese, dating to 2950 BC.
- Mineral: Jadeite and Nephrite
- Chemistry: NaAlSi2O6 and Ca2(Mg,Fe)5Si8O22(OH)2
- Color: Green, white, orange, yellow, lavender, black
- Refractive index: 1.666 to 1.680 (+/-0.008) and 1.606 to 1.632 (+0.009, 0.006)
- Birefringence: Usually not detectable
- Specific gravity: 3.34 and 2.95
- Mohs Hardness: 6.5 to 7 and 6.0 to 6.5
For both jadeite and nephrite, green is the most valued color. Semi-transparent clarity and fine texture also increase jade’s value dramatically.
The finest jadeite—almost transparent with a vibrant emerald-green color—is known as “imperial jade.”
Jadeite’s transparency ranges from completely opaque to semi-transparent. The best jadeite is semi-transparent.
Jadeite has a lovely, smooth, and even texture that makes people want to touch and hold the gem.
While jade is rarely faceted like other gems, plain as well as intricate jade carvings are judged by their artistry.
Jadeite is generally sold by the piece rather than by weight. For top-quality imperial jadeite, slight size differences can make large value differences.