Jade Overview

Jade stone is a popular one that’s sometimes referred to as the stone of luck and happiness. “The use of jade goes back a long way and has its roots in ancient Eastern civilizations,” says crystal healer Carol Boote. “China is where jade is truly revered and celebrated. It can be found etched into all kinds of jewelry and statues.” Jade also saw popularity outside Eastern cultures. “The remains of jade tools and utensils have been found in the excavation of ancient sites worldwide,” Boote says. “Tribes in New Zealand would use jade to adorn their masks. They would also turn to the mystical powers of jade when they wanted to make an offering to the water spirits.”

Occurrence and Mining

The term jade, as used in geology and gemology, refers to two extremely tough, essentially monomineralic rocks used for carvings and gems. Amphibole jade is nephrite, a tremolite-actinolite [Ca2(Mg,Fe)5Si8O22(OH)2] rock with a felted, microcrystalline habit, and pyroxene jade is jadeite [NaAlSi2O6] rock (jadeitite) which varies from micro- to macrocrystalline textures. Both rock types have received relatively little attention due to their scarcity, minor economic importance, and cryptic petrography. The geological interpretation of both jade types has been hindered by poor exposure and the occurrence of major jadeitite deposits in politically unstable countries. However, recent investigations show not only that the jades share some common geological characteristics, but both result from and record important Earth processes. Nephrite is the more common and less valuable of the two jade types. Important deposits occur at the Polar, Kutcho, and Ogden Mtn. properties in northern British Columbia, Canada (Gabrielse, 1990); along the Yurungkash and Karakash (White Jade and Black Jade) Rivers, Kunlun Mtns., Xinjiang, China (see Webster, 1975); SW of Lake Baikal in the East Sayan Mtns., Siberia, Russia (Prokhor, 1991); the Barguzin-Vitim Massif, Central Vitim Highland (East of Lake Baikal), Siberia, Russia (Sekerin et al., 1997); near Cowell, South Australia (Flint and Dubowski, 1990); the Westland (Arahura River– Cooper, 1995), the Livingstone, Nelson, Otago, and South Westland fields on South Island, New Zealand (Beck, 1984 & 1991); northeastern Taiwan (Wand,. 1987); Jordansmuhl, Poland (Visser, 1946); in the Granite Mtns., Lander Co., Wyoming (Madson, 1978); and along the Noatak & Kobuk Rivers south of the Brooks Range in Alaska (Loney and Himmelberg, 1985).

Quality Factors

Color is jadeite’s most important value factor. Because consumers traditionally associate jadeite with the color green, it surprises some people to learn that it comes in other colors as well—lavender, red, orange, yellow, brown, white, black, and gray. All of these colors can be attractive. But jadeite’s most desirable color is, in fact, a very specific shade of green.
Jadeite’s transparency ranges from completely opaque to semitransparent. The best jadeite is semitransparent, meaning the text you can read through it would be slightly blurred. Because light penetrates below the surface, semitransparent jadeite has an alluring brilliance. It almost appears to glow, increasing the charm of a lush green or rich lavender hue. The least desirable jadeites are completely opaque or have opaque or cloudy patches that break up their transparency.
Due to the crystal shJadeite has a smooth, even texture that makes people want to touch and hold it. Jadeite’s texture can be fine, medium, or coarse, depending on variations in crystal size and hardness. These texture categories are sometimes called, respectively, old mine, relatively old mine, and new mine
China is the world’s main polishing center for jadeite. Some jadeite from Myanmar is fashioned near its source, in cutting workshops near the open jade markets of Hpakan, Lonkin, Mogaung, and Mandalay. Many cutters there still polish jadeite the ancient way, using a hollow bamboo lathe treated with sand and water.

Identification

Color

Virtually all colors, mostly green

Crystal habit

Intergrown grainy or fine fibrous aggregate

Twinning

zu

Cleavage

None

Fracture

Splintery

Tenacity

Brittle        

Mohs  

6-7

Specific gravity

2.9 – 3.38

Refractive index

1.600 – 1.688

Pleochroism

Absent

Dispersion

None

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