For centuries Jade has been a popular stone with a huge cultural significance all over the world, but mainly in China and Latin America where it is perceived as a stone of good fortune, purity, virtue, wisdom, and courage. It is a powerful healing stone of the heart, with outward flowing vibrations that bring love and balance while releasing emotional trauma. Green jade is a strong earth element stone and is exceptional at understanding and connecting with nature.
Zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Libra
Colors: green, gray, black, white, yellow
Because it is such a highly sought-after stone, many imitations are flooding the market and it’s important to know what you’re buying. Here’s how to identify Jade.
Types of Jade
The name Jade is used to describe two types of minerals, the first being Nephrite and the second being Jadeite. The most effective way to differentiate between Nephrite and Jadeite is by way of a chime test – tapping it with a hard object. Nephrite will let out a musical tone while Jadeite will not. The key distinctions are as follows:
Nephrite, a calcium magnesium silicate most commonly found in variations of pale to dark green and usually containing yellowish hues, but also white, gray, brown, and black. Nephrite is most commonly found in New Zealand in Serpentine deposits and along the edges of water sources, but it is also commonly found in Russia, Australia, China, Taiwan, Canada, Zimbabwe, and the United States (Alaska and Wyoming). Nephrite jade is typically translucent, but fibrous stones appear more cloudy because their fibers are packed more densely. Polishing Nephrite stones brings out different shades depending on the technique and elements used. Nephrite is slightly softer (6.0 – 6.5 on the Mohs scale) and more available in comparison to Jadeite, but they still show good resistance to breakage.
Jadeite, a sodium aluminum silicate with a less glassy luster than Nephrite and an appearance of being dull and waxy with more vivid colorations. It is most commonly found in green, but can also appear in white, yellow, orange, gray, black and lavender. Jadeite was first discovered in Mesoamerica by conquistadors who brought it back to Europe. The main source of Jadeite is Burma, but it can be found in many other parts of the world as well including Japan, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Canada, Turkey, Cuba, Russia, South America, and the USA. In contrast to Nephrite, Jadeite will appear much more translucent and will appear almost translucent when held up to the sky in daylight. Authentic Jadeite is harder than Nephrite (6.0 – 7.0 on the Mohs scale), but both are still great for carving and engraving.
Turkish Purple Jade, otherwise known as Turkiyenite can be found in the Bursa region of Turkey. Widely used in the commercial market, it contains about 40- 60 Jadeite and although it displays a beautiful purple hue, it doesn’t have the particular luminescence as the rare lavender or purple Jadeite.
How to Spot a Fake Jade
- The Texture Test: The texture of your jade will tell you everything you need to know. Although jade comes in many different colors and varieties, it should never appear dull or completely opaque. A texture completely lacking in luster means the jade is not authentic and was most likely dyed. The appearance of bubbles or an obvious separation in color within the stone is an indication that the stone is actually glass or an imitation stone. The best type of authentic jade is translucent and smooth to the touch with a vivid reflection of color and light. There are a few opaque jade stones which are authentic, but they are also very inexpensive due to lack in quality.
- The Light Test: Perhaps the easiest method of verifying a jade stone is real is by using light. Hold your piece directly under light and look for color consistency – real jade will have consistent color throughout with some minor variations in color as well as pattern. Fake jade will have blemishes inside the stone or its color will be almost perfect throughout. Flaws in the cut of the stone or the appearance of lines on the surface (minor imperfections like dents after polishing) is a clear indication that the jade is real and authentic. However, premium quality jade may not have these imperfections due to quality control and extensive polishing.
- The Sound Test: If you’ve exhausted the above methods and still have some doubt about whether your jade is real or not, try the sound test. Tap against the stone with something metallic like a key (not hard enough to break it) and listen closely. If it is glass, plastic, or any other type of lightweight inauthentic material, the sound will be hollow, almost like an echo. If your jade is authentic, the sound will come back deep, resonant, and a little more muted.
- The Scratch Test: An even simpler way of determining whether your jade is real or not is by conducting a scratch test. Authentic jade is so hard that it will not scratch easily with a piece of metal or any other everyday object. Not even steel can damage jade’s surface. Scratch the stone’s surface with a steel object like a knife or a needle. If this leaves a clear and obvious mark, the stone is either fake or low quality.
Which Grade of Jade do you Have?
There are three different grades of Jade, all different levels of quality. Jewelers will often use different techniques to stabilize a stone, such as bleaching or layering. Depending on the type of treatment the stone gets, there are three different grades.
Type A: the jade is natural, meaning it hasn’t been artificially treated in any way. Any element used for cleaning or polishing the stone is also natural like plum juice or beeswax.
Type B: the jade stones are authentic and retain their natural color, however, they have received some extent of artificial treatment. These stones are often bleached for purification and then injected with polymers so as to intensify their translucency. Type B jade tends to look more polished than type A, but is less durable and tends to become brittle over time due to the polymer injections.
Type C: the lowest grade among all jade types due to the stone having been treated. These stones are bleached and dyed extensively to enhance their transparency. Since the stones are already low quality, these treatments make them last for a much shorter amount of time.
Popular Imitation Jade Varieties
Some stones and crystals look a lot like jade, but are made up of different elements. They are often passed off as jade and sold at a much higher price.
Serpentine Jade (New Jade, Korean Jade, Olive Jade) is widely used as a jade substitute because it is almost identical in coloration. However, serpentine is much softer and would not pass a scratch test. With colors ranging from shades of green to brown and yellow, it will show an obvious white cloud shape under the light test.
Transvaal Jade (Grossular Garnet, South African Jade) is white in color, but can also be found in other varieties including green, red, and yellow, of which the green most resembles jade on the surface. To increase its value, it is called Transvaal Jade.
Prehnite is a brittle stone which resembles jade because of its light green and yellow shades. Also available in a few other colors including clear transparent, it has a glass like appearance.
Malaysia Jade is quite popular in southeast Asian countries as its quartz translucency causes it to be frequently mistaken for a high quality jade. It is available in almost every color because it is easy to dye, with the most common colors being blue, red, and yellow.
Australian Jade (Chrysoprase) is found mostly in Queensland, Australia and closely resembles the Burmese (imperial) Jade. Because of its nickel mineralization, the translucent stone appears in various shades of green.
Mountain Jade (Dolomite Marble) is mostly found in Asia and has the resemblance of not only jade, but also several other high quality gemstones because it can be dyed to almost any vivid color.
Aventurine is a variety of quartz which very closely resembles and feels like Jade. The most common color is green, but it also appears in blue, orange, yellow and brown.