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Confused about Jade


#1

On a recent trip to Beijing, China, I visited a jade factory. Hoping
for an education in jade and wanting to pick up a few small stones to
set, I left there empty handed and more confused than ever. At the
beginning of the tour, we were shown many different types of jade
that was carved – amethyst, lapis lazuli, topaz, etc., you get the
picture. I questioned our guide thinking I was losing something in
the translation as the stones and carvings she was pointing out were
all minerals and not the jade that I was familiar with in the states.
She insisted that jade comes in all colors and the green we are
familiar with is also called jade or jadeite. After browsing
around, getting the same response from all of the sales people, I
gave up and left. Anything green was priced all over the board and I
had no idea if what I was buying was realy jade or not. Did we miss
something in the translation or is “jade” just a catch all name for any
mineral carving?


#2
 Did we miss something in the translation or is "jade" just a catch
all name for any mineral carving? 

Absolutely right! If you’re dealing with sellers in many countries
other than Europe and the USA they will translate “usefully.”

A Jade factory will be a place where jade is fashioned - and other
materials as well. They all become “Jade” by connection.

In India almost any red stone is immediately labeled as “ruby” but
distinguished from the real article by the addition of another word -
“Ballas ruby” (pink to pale red variety of Spinel) being most
familiar. Sapphire is similarly dealt with (“Water sapphire” being
Iolite.)

Even in the west we’re a bit sneaky - calling red tourmaline
"Rubellite" blue “Indicolite” and yellow quartz “Prasiolite.”

Here’s a good page to start looking
http://www.minerals.net/gemstone/gem_abc/gemextnd.htm

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone
www.goldandstone.com
tony@goldandstone.com


#3

jade does come in all colors. If you really want to learn about jade,
go to some of the local gem and mineral shows in your area and talk
to dealers who sell both rough material and cut stones. Local shows
are listed in the back of lapidary journal. I also look for dealers
who are offering jade rough, especially if they have boxes under
their display tables. Dealers are highly motivated to NOT take those
boxes of rocks back home.

The last show that I went to, I got some fabulous rough green
material for $5 per lb., which when slabbed was about 50% good stuff.
Since I do lapidary, it was a great deal. It’s a little darker green
than the Siberian and has none of the black graphite spots. I think
that it may come from British Colombia.

If you look at a jadite slab under magnification, you’ll see
chrystals in the rock. It tends to polish up better than the
nephrite, which is “fibrous” and tends to be much harder to polish.

Last week-end, I met an old rockhound guy who had a big pile of
California jadite in his back yard. I didn’t even know that there was
jadite in California! He gave me a big 10 lb. sample rock that I’m
slabbing on. Can’t wait to see how it polishes!

Cheers

Virginia Lyons


#4

The Jade trap… To the uninitiated buyer the purchase of jade can be a
real problem and a trap… Unfortunately there are unscrupulous and
uninformed merchants who are only interested in the dollar at the end
of the trail.

There is jadeite and nephrite jade which should be accepted as the
only true jades though each is a quite different material. I will
deal with the �imitations� first and then return to the true jades.

Serpentine sometimes called Korean Jade is widely sold as jade in
carvings, is not as hard as jade but is an attractive stone in its
own right.

Green aventurine quartz gets called jade

Green grossular garnet gets called �Transvaal jade�

Soochow Jade commonly seen as quite attractive figurines etc., is
glass from Soochow in China.

Californite can be called California jade.

Green idocrase sometimes get called jade.

Now to the real stuff. Nephrite jade , Hardness 5.5-6.5,
Na2Ca2(MgFe)10(OH2O2Si16044) and belonging to the amphibole family.
As you can see, a mixture of a number of minerals felted together and
in good quality nephrite making it a very tough stone which is
ideally suited for delicate carvings. Ranges through white, grey, all
shades of green and black. In New Zealand it is commonly called
�Greenstone�, the Maori called it �Pounamu� literally meaning �Waters
of greenstone� in reference I think to the rivers in which they found
the stone for use as mere, (a club), and for ornaments. I believe that
Nephrite jade was mainly used for carvings in China till the 18th
century when Jadeite was found in Burma and became part of the �Jade�
trade. Nephrite is found in China, Korea, Siberia, British Columbia,
Alaska, Wyoming, Australia and New Zealand. I believe it acquired the
name nephrite as it was at one time thought that if powdered and
taken it was a cure for nephritus. I could be corrected on that.

Jadeite� Hardness 6.5-7, NaAlSi206, and the Pyroxene family and the
structure is more like cryptocrystalline quartz (Agate etc) in that
it is a mass of minute crystals all jumbled together to make the mass
which incidently makes it quite easy to dye… It come in many
qualities and colours ranging through white, the greens, orange and
red rarely, lavender and mixtures of these colours. Carvings in this
material are sometimes waxed after completion.

As a foot note I would advise you to be careful when setting nephrite
jade cabs as tripoli and rouge buffing will remove the stones polish.

Hope this helps you

Keith Torckler, Cornwallis New Zealand


#5

There are two families of real jade: jadeite and nephrite.
Amethyst, lapis, etc. are clearly not jade, but jade may be found in
colors resembling these materials. Jadeite is the rarer form of the
two and occurs in a variety of colors: green, white, pink, red, mauve,
etc. Jadeite is the type of jade usually found in jewelry.

Nephrite tends to be green to dark green to black, although it is
also found in creamy and nearly white colors. Nephrite is usually
carved as opposed to cut for jewelry.

There are a number of materials that may be fraudulently sold as
jade, including serpentine. I would be cautious buying “jade” in a
foreign marketplace where consumer protection isn’t strong, or you
don’t know the reputation of the vendor. Real jade can be identified
with standard gemology tests, such as hardness and specific gravity.

I hope this helps a little.

Dave


#6

Hi, all-

Another low-tech way to identify jade, which I heard from a jade
appraiser-

Jade conducts heat very well. If a piece is jadeite, you can tie a
strand of your hair around it, hold the hair over a match or lighter
flame, and the hair will not burn- this is no urban legend- I have
tried it, and it works.

Lee Einer


#7
   Did we miss something in the translation or is "jade" just a
catch all name for any mineral carving? 

A little of both. In the Orient, the word “Jade” is often applied to
any green stone. It’s not intended to defraud, it’s just that the
word means “Green Stone”. In asian stores in Vancouver, I’ve
frequently seen it applied to Aventurine. Also, Jadeite and Nephrite
occur in colours other than green. Muttonfat Jade, for instance is
white with brown tones in it. There are brown, white, lavender and
even black jades.


#8

Hi Dave,

I feel I should comment on your useful piece re the ‘jade’ problem.

    Nephrite is usually carved as opposed to cut for jewelry. 

New Zealand being such an insignificant little island at the bottom
of the Pacific Ocean I guess people can be excused for knowing little
about us!

Nephrite jade jewellery is quite big business here, for both the
local and tourist trade. Rings, pendants, brooches, ear rings and
carvings of course, you name it, we make it.

Our best quality nephrite is very very good and takes a superior
polish and is our preference for use. However demand often exceeds
supply to the extent that it is on occasion necessary to import rough
from oversea sources.

Craftsmen working nephrite usually have no trouble identifying the
material but as I indicated in my previous posting it can be a real
trap for the beginner.

Kind regards

Keith Torckler, New Zealand


#9

You should be aware that ‘mutton fat jade’ is not jade at all, but
sillimanite. This is a marketing ploy to sell the carvings.


#10

people - a quick way to differentiate jadeite from nephrite: using a
strong light look through the material, nephrite will look sort of
fibrous - like strands going one way, while jadeite is granular
looking - seeming to have little points or crystals. i cut, carve &
polish a lot jades: the usual greens; lavender, solid & spotted;
black, hard as show judges’ hearts; spinach - imagine squishy strands
of spinach on a creamware plate - to describe a few. if you come
across a ‘black jade’ that scratches easily - it’s probably onyx;
‘yellow’ or ‘butter jade’ - is probably serpentine or other soft
material.

good luck -
ive


#11

Hi Keith: I could not read your post about your own “insignificant
island in the south pacific” without having a good laugh. New
Zealand is neither a small nor is it insignificant!!! It seems to me
that the whole group of islands joined together as a nation is one of
a few places left that is more paradise than exploited wasteland.
Nephrite is but one resource your country has. From what I’ve been
able to learn of it, your government and citizens have taken a more
environmentally sound way of extracting it. If it was extracted here
in the United States, our government and corporations would figure a
way around the laws protecting the environment. Strip mine it as fast
and cheaply as possible to maximize profits for the shareholders, then
fill in the hole, plant some fast growing grass and add a tree of two
and presto, another distorted landscape. Not a pretty picture is it.
New Zealand, I believe, takes the longer approach. The nephrite is
there but it is mined in a more environmentally sound way— again
from what I’ve read and from what Mr. John Burgess has said. Keith,
yours is a wonderful country and sometimes, I find myself envious of
you and your fellow New Zealanders, even though y’all got your seasons
backwards I would dearly love to visit. By the way, which Island are
you and Mr. John from, north or south? Richard Blahnik Lufkin, (east)
Texas USA


#12

There actually is a mutton fat jade. But like the other colors,
imitations are occasionally misrepresented. What happens is that the
imitation over-runs the availability of the original.

Arthur


#13

Just goes to show how murky this subject can be! According to Rocks,
Crystals, Minerals
published by Chartwell books, on the subject of
Nephrite, “Color ranges from a creamy color (“mutton fat” jade) to
dark green and depends on the chemical composition…” If this source
is to be believed, there is actually a color of Nephrite called
"Mutton Fat."

Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#14
You should be aware that 'mutton fat jade' is not jade at all, but
sillimanite. This is a marketing ploy to sell the carvings. 

Um, not so! Mutton fat jade refers to the gray green variety of jade
and jadeite that most of us are familiar with in antique and ancient
jades.

While this may be a term misapplied to articles in the far east is
has a very specific meaning to gemologists.

Tony Konrath (and this time I’ll include my qualifications for the
post) F.G.A.

Gold and Stone
www.goldandstone.com
tony@goldandstone.com


#15
 It seems to me that the whole group of islands joined together as a
nation is one of a few places left that is more paradise than
exploited wasteland. 

G’day - and HA! you obviously haven’t seen the devastation left by
the old alluvial dredges on a few of our gold bearing rivers. Nor can
you have seen the devastation left by exploitation of some of our
native forests. And you haven’t seen the battlefield made by the
modern miners at Mcraes Flat in the South Island and the re-opened
Martha Mine - open cast - in the North Island. But our present
government is slightly more enlightened (they were forced into a
shotgun marriage (coalition) with the Greenies!) and have created a
whole slew of bureaucracy to handle it.

    Nephrite is but one resource your country has. From what I've
been able to learn of it, your government and citizens have taken a
more environmentally sound way of extracting it. 

The place from whence they extract it is so remote - 3 day’s hard
tramp from the nearest habitation through very rough country - that
the only way to get it is to helicopter in a large petrol driven
diamond saw, to check that this likely half-tonne boulder has enough
jade hidden inside it to make it worth while flying it out. The
nephrite jade comes in large boulders resting the headwaters of the
Olderog Creek in the South Island; there is no mine as such.

    Strip mine it as fast and cheaply as possible to maximize
profits for the shareholders, then fill in the hole, plant some fast
growing grass and add a tree of two and presto, another distorted
landscape.  

Well. I can take you to what was a very smelly and incredibly untidy
rubbish heap on the main approach road (!!!) on the outskirts of the
City of Nelson. Paper and trash blowing all over the place, seagulls
screaming and fighting over diseased animal waste… You should see
it now! They turned it into a very beautiful, peaceful Japanese
garden; a haven of tranquility and a delight to the eye - yes and the
feet. All done with things like old wooden railway sleepers, rocks,
ordinary plants, (heaps of 'em) and the work done by the ‘Periodic
Detention’ people who have committed minor crimes and perform such
public work as a punishment.

So it doesn’t have to finish up as ‘another distorted landscape.’

    ....and from what Mr. John Burgess has said.  Keith, yours is a
wonderful country .... By the way, which Island are you and Mr. John
from, north or south? 

Well, what’s all this ‘Mr’ business about ? I’m just plain old John
and I’m from the top of the South Island; Keith can answer for
himself. And although I was once an Englishman I positively LOVE lil’
ole Noozilnd!

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


#16

Tony. I am referring to the articles carved out of a creamy material
with blue spots in it. It is very definitely NOT any variety of jade
at all. It is very prevalent here in the Pacific Northwest and sold
along with carvings of jade, hematite and rhodonite. You may very
well have gemological qualifications, however, I am willing to bet
real money that you have never seen the stuff sold here and marketed
as ‘mutton fat jade’. Any geologist/gemologist here who has seen this
material would be able to tell you this. While there may very well be
a ‘mutton fat jade’ - this stuff ain’t it.

Jan


#17

I think that this is language thing… I’m sure you’re right about the
material you’re seeing but “mutton fat” is still a recognized color
designation for Jade/jadeite.

The only way you’ll tell is by testing. I’ve been surprised by some
very nasty stuff actually being jade (try chloromelanite for example.)

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone
www.goldandstone.com
tony@goldandstone.com