Unfortunately, because of jade’s popularity and rising cost, many imitations have appeared on the market. Treatments for lower-quality stones are also widespread. For any significant jade purchase, be sure to obtain a laboratory report to ensure that the material is natural.

Jadeite or Nephrite?

As a gemstone, jade can be one of two minerals: jadeite or nephrite. While both are jade, there are significant differences between these minerals. First, jadeite, a pyroxene mineral, has somewhat greater hardness than nephrite, an amphibole mineral. Still, both are susceptible to scratching.  On the Mohs scale, jadeite is 6.5-7, while nephrite is 6-6.5. Nephrite can occur in extremely large sizes. Large jade sculptures are commonly made from this material. Both materials are extremely tough and resistant to wear, though nephrite is somewhat tougher. However, the top color for jade, imperial green, only occurs in jadeite. Additionally, jadeite is more likely to be translucent. These factors, in combination with greater rarity, make jadeite more expensive than nephrite.

Quality Factors for Jade Buying

Jade value is based primarily on the mineral – jadeite or nephrite – then on color, translucency, and texture.

Because China is the largest market for jade,…