synthetic jade and CZ ring
Does this 14K gold plated ring really feature a synthetic jade? Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and A Nice Gift for You. Used with permission.

Answer: Scientists have successfully synthesized jadeite but not nephrite. However, this lab-created material isn’t produced commercially. You might encounter so-called “synthetic jade” for sale as loose stones or in jewelry, but this material is most likely a jade lookalike.

Synthetic Jade by General Electric

Attempts to synthesize jadeite — one of the two gem materials classified as jade — go back as early as the 1880s and continued unsuccessfully through the mid 20th century. Synthetic jadeite was finally successfully created by General Electric (GE) researchers R. C. DeVries and J. F. Fleischer and documented in 1984. Although the green, black, and lavender jadeite they produced could be considered “gem-quality,” it lacked the translucency of “Imperial” jadeite. However, GE continued to research synthetic jadeite. In 2002, they successfully produced green jadeite that rivaled high-quality “Imperial” jadeite.

Distinguishing Synthetic from Natural Jadeite

Many of the gemological properties of the GE synthetic material match those of natural jadeite, but some differences do exist. Researchers S. Cao, L. Qi, Q. Guo, and Y. Lu have