Jade/Jadeite/Nephrite vs. Chrysoprase & Aventurine etc

Hi, All, I am new to the gemstone and jewelry business, and am no
geologist. I would like to work with and sell some real Jade products,
but all of the varieties and substitutes confuse me. First of all, is
Jade considered precious or semi-precious, and which varieties? Also,
does anyone know of a way to tell Jade from the widely used
substitutes, just by looking at a piece? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Hello Susan, This topic can fill many volumes, but you have to start
somewhere. I suggest that you get a good book on minerals or
gemstones and look up “Nephrite” and “Jadeite”. Also look up
“Serpentine”. Jadeite is composed of millions of interlocking crystals
of a single mineral, jadeite. Nephrite is composed of millions of
interlocking crystals of several different minerals,usually
actinolite/tremolite/epidote. Serpentine is a magnesium silicate that
is structurally and chemically different than nephrite and is usually
softer. There is a variety of serpentine called “Bowenite” that is
sometimes used in carvings and beads.From here you have to get a
little hands-on experience, I suggest going to a local gem and
mineral/lapidary club, museum, university, jeweler, mineral
collector, rockshop, gemshow, Or better yet, buy some samples from a
reputable dealer. If you are going to be dealing with gems and jewelry
for a living, you might want to check out courses such as those
offered by the G.I.A. (Gemological Inst. America). Also, use your
search engine, there are plenty of pages devoted to minerals and gems
out there. Hope this helps. Will Estavillo

Susan: Jade is a very difficult market because of the confusion with
the name. First jade takes 2 distinctly different forms. There is
nephrite which comes in colors from black down to a very light green
with shading from impurities. Nephrite is very common all over the
planet, but never the less has been used in some amazing pieces.
Jadeite is much less abundant and actually an entirely different
mineral. It comes in a wider variety of colors than nephrite. It can
be white, lavender, brown, green (in so many shades). The properties
of the two minerals are somewhat similar as they are both fiborous and
very tough. Distinguishing true jade from substitutes has fooled
even knowlegeable gemologists at first glance. The method I use is
this. First familiarize yourself with the differences between
nephrite and jadeite. Nephrite often has darker inclusions through
out the stone. Somewhat as if you took small spinach pieces and
sprinkled them throughout the stone. One very distinct feature is
that it has a clearly “waxy” feel to it. Jadeite doesn’t have either
of these properties. One of the problem properties with Jadeite is
that it can be fairly easily dyed and it is difficult to detect.
After some experience you can detect the poorer dye jobs by visual
inspection. Look for concentrations of the dye in any crevices or
cracks and bleeding of the dye. I have seen a lot of dyed Jadeite
material out there lately in the less expensive beads and carvings.
If you ever decide to get into the “imperial green apple jade” be
very careful of your purchases. This material is very expensive and a
cheap price would cause me to not trust the material. Well I know that
this cursory note won’t prepare you to dive into the Jade market but I
hope that it is helpful. By the way Schumann’s book Gemstones of the
world has some nice photos of some comparisons of Jadeite and
Nephrite. It is lacking in that there are no representations of the
lavender to brown shades of nephrite. Nor does it have any photos of
the black nephrite. Well good luck, N. Kimes Susan Murray wrote:

A jade appraiser once showed me a low-tech trick for testing jade- if
you tie a strand of your hair around a piece of jade, you can’t burn
the hair with a match or lighter flame. Jadite is apparently a very
good conductor of heat.

Lee Einer

may want to check out the book By Fred Ward on Jade. It is good in
that it give a novice something to start with. I personally like
jadeite better, but all forms of the material are lovely. good luck,

Hi Susan,

Part of the collection of shop hints on our web site has a list of
the different types of jade and the common substitutes - and how to
work nephrite - http://www.islandnet.com/~islndgem/HelpH.htm - there
is a picture of nephrite jade on the products page as well. If you
would like some BC nephrite jade to try, contact me off line and I
will see about rummaging through the bit box for a piece for you to

The word jade covers two separate materials, jadeite and nephrite.
This is a bit confusing but once you learn the difference it is not so

Typically jadeite comes from southeast Asia (Burma in particular)- it
has a broad range of colours and is quite pricey. Not to start a
discussion on what constitutes a precious gem stone versus
semi-precious but the price of jadeite definitely puts it into the
more costly bracket. Nephrite jade comes from multiple locations
including BC (which is what I have), the North Western States,
California, Russia, Australia, and a few other places. Typically
nephrite is a green colour, in various tones and shades.

Contact me off line and I can point you to more resources.

Cameron Speedie
Island Gem and Rock

The two classic varieties are Nephrite and Jadeite.I believe there is
a 3rd variety actinolite Jade.If not formally classified,there are
Jades toally permeated with it,or it is an actual pseudomorph.That is
where you get your “cat’s eye” Jade.After handling a lot of it,you can
not only identify Nephrite from Jadeite,but even a given location as
in most cases it occurs similar or uniform from a mine.Certainly not
hard to seperate genuine Jade from the two examples of Crysophrase and
Adventurine.Crysophrase might resemble in it’s finest
qualities,Imperial Jade but simple hardness test will identify.The
Crysophrase is in the Agate family.Considerably harder,no mistaking
that.Adventurine does not look anything like Jade,at least to me.But
as hardness is similar,you might check for density.This is the one
property that makes Jade stand out from all other gems.It is soft
really,you can scratch a Jade with a knife,but try to carve off a
little end of it.Impossible.It is a dense as a mettalic.There are some
look alikes that get tricky,but more in the Serpentine family.Again it
is density that will seperate it.That is saying you can do a test that
might be potentialy destructive.You might not be able to on a carving
or a cut stone.This hardly covers the subject,but leads me to make an
announcement.I just stumbled on the first occurance of Nephrite Jade
in Brazil.They have recorded finds of Jadeite near Sao Paulo. Now my ID
of it is like the above,just spit and kick.For more information
contact “Paul Ahlstedt” gemking@earthlink.net He is conducting the
positive scientific analysis,then we can make more formal announcment
to the gemstone cummunity.For the real curious,at first glance,you
might take it to be Williamsite,a gem variety of Serpentine,or a dark
Siberian Jade. Mark Liccini


mark - wish i could work with some of the jade you say can be
scratched with a knife - i’ve been working my rough the old-fashioned
way - diamond saws & burrs - & a heck of a lot of water (crucial for
reducing jade) & time! so far none of the old stock jadeite has been
’scratchable’ - chrysoprase, aventurine, serpentine yes. jade NO. ive

You can scratch Jade with a knife.I think it is 5-6 hardness.What you
are experiencing there is it’s phenominal property of density. Entirely
different thing.Think about elephant Ivory. Mark Liccini