jadeite, diamond, and white gold ring
jadeite, diamond, and white gold ring

Jadeite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


One of two distinct minerals commonly known as jade, jadeite is the rarer and harder variety. Rich green jadeite, known as “imperial jade,” is also the most highly valued. However, durable jadeite can be found in many colors and is well-suited for both intricate carvings and cabochons.

7 Minute Read

One of two distinct minerals commonly known as jade, jadeite is the rarer and harder variety. Rich green jadeite, known as “imperial jade,” is also the most highly valued. However, durable jadeite can be found in many colors and is well-suited for both intricate carvings and cabochons.

jadeite, diamond, and white gold ring
Natural jadeite and diamond ring, 18K white gold inlay. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Quan Rong Gallery.

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Jadeite Value

  • • The most significant value factors for jade gemstones are color, origin, and size.
  • • The most valuable jade color is known as “imperial jade” and occurs only in jadeite.
  • • Imperial jade is a green balanced between blue and yellow hues. The ideal tone is medium-dark, about 75%, where green hues are optimally saturated.

 

Both jadeite and nephrite are graded based on their treatments:

 

  • • Type A: Untreated, natural jade. May have a wax coating but nothing else.
  • • Type B: Jade has undergone bleach and polymer treatment.
  • • Type C: Jade contains dye.
  • • Type B+C: Jade has undergone bleach, polymer, and dye treatments.

 

We recommend buying Type A jade only. Other treatments can weaken the gem’s physical stability and lower its value. However, determining whether a jade has been treated can be difficult.

 

Carved jade pieces are valued by piece, not carat. Artistry and provenance are the major value factors.

The value of a jadeite carving is as much a function of artistry and antiquity as the color and quality of the material itself. Jadeite is a very specialized gemstone, and evaluating these pieces is complicated. In the US, its appeal is largely collector based. The finest jadeite originates from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Historically, China has had a great admiration for jadeite. Today, it remains the strongest market for this gemstone.

For more detailed information on evaluating jadeite, consult our jade buying guide.

Jadeite Carving - Myanmar
Jadeite, Myanmar. (Statue ~ 8 inches tall). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
jadeite table screen - China
Jadeite table screen with landscape scene. Qing Dynasty (18th-19th centuries), China, 17.3 cm x 1.5 cm. Gift of Heber R. Bishop, 1902. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public Domain.

What is Jadeite?

Jadeite belongs to the pyroxene mineral group. Although it can form as a single mineral in a pure crystalline form, this happens very rarely. Jadeite typically occurs as a sodium-aluminum silicate rock with a polycrystalline structure.

  • Jadeite Crystals - California
  • jadeite crystals - California
  • jadeite crystals 2 - California

    This vug of massive jadeite also contains rare crystallized, light-green jadeites about 0.8 cm long. Russian River, Mendocino Co. California, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

    What’s the Difference Between Jadeite and Jade?

    Jadeite is one of the two minerals popularly described as jade. The other is nephrite. Although they have some similarities, these materials have distinct properties.

    People across the world have used both jadeite and nephrite for tools, ritual objects, and jewelry for millennia. The Chinese have utilized nephrite since the Neolithic era and may have worn carved nephrite bangles as far back as 4,000 years ago. The Olmecs, Maya, and Aztecs of ancient Meso-America made ceremonial objects and jewelry from jadeite.

    Olmec jade mask
    Olmec mask, 1,000-600 BCE, jadeite with traces of cinnabar, height 4 inches, from the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo by Beesnest McClain. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

    The Chinese and Meso-Americans valued nephrite and jadeite, respectively, not just for their physical properties. They came to symbolize excellence and the greatest values of these cultures. For example, the Aztecs characterized eloquence as “a scattering of jades." The Chinese sage Confucius (551-479 BCE) compared jade to a gentleman esteemed by all for his qualities.

    However, these cultures didn’t refer to these materials as “jade” or group them together. How did these two gem materials become associated?

    The Origin of the Term “Jade”

    Jadeite and nephrite both occur in Europe. The authors of a 2017 study have documented the trade of jadeite axe heads from sources in Italy across Europe during Neolithic times. However, as Giancarlo Sette writes, European knowledge and use of both jadeites and nephrites disappeared over time — until the 16th century and the Spanish arrival in the Americas.

    After reviewing Spanish writings related to their conquests in the Americas, Sette notes the following developments over the course of the 16th century:

    • Initially, the Spaniards referred to green gemstones from the Americas as “emeralds,” regardless of their transparency. At this time, the Spaniards were not yet familiar with high-quality, transparent Colombian emeralds.
    • Gradually, Spanish writers started to record indigenous terms for various green gemstones and their uses. In particular, Fray Bernardino de Sahagún noted that the Aztecs grated a green stone, xiuhtomoltetl, mixed it with cold water, and drank it to relieve heartache and inflammation.
    • The Spaniards began to refer to certain green stones from the Americas as “piedras de yjada” or “stones of the sides” because supposedly the Aztecs believed they had the ability to cure kidney ailments. (Whether this was actually an Aztec belief is not certain).
    • These “piedras de yjada” were most likely what we now call jadeite.
    • “Yjada” or “ijada” became the origin of the word “jade” in English and in other European languages.

    How Jadeite and Nephrite Became Jade

    For thousands of years, Chinese artisans worked nephrite into utilitarian and artistic objects as well as jewelry. Much of the traditional Chinese folklore and symbolism associated with jade originated as the folklore of nephrite. However, in the mid 18th century, a new green gemstone from neighboring Burma (now known as Myanmar) entered China. The Chinese came to prize this material. As it turns out, this was jadeite.

    Qing dynasty jadeite cup - China
    Cup, jadeite, Qing Dynasty (19th century), China, 2.5 cm x 4.4 cm. Bequest of Edmund C. Converse, 1921. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public Domain.

    Gemologist Jill Hobbs notes that the Chinese distinguished these two materials: nephrite was known as yu, while jadeite from Burma was known as fei-ts’ui. However, European merchants trading with China at this time grouped both materials under the now-commonplace term “jade” because of their apparent similarities. It was not until 1863 that the French mineralogist Alexis Damour distinguished jade as two distinct minerals — jadeite and nephrite. The term “jadeite” was coined after jade.

    The term “jade” still enjoys widespread use both in the gem trade and in everyday parlance. However, gemologists should distinguish between nephrite jade and jadeite jade.

    Does Jadeite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

    Jadeite pieces are very tough. Although nephrite has greater resistance to breaking, jadeite usually has a Mohs hardness great enough to resist scratches from the most common jewelry hazard: household dust. Both jadeite and nephrite have excellent wearability, but jadeite is somewhat better suited for jewelry, especially ring use, because of its greater hardness.

    Jade pieces - China and Russia
    Jade, jadeite and nephrite, assorted carvings and beads, China and Russia (Snuff bottles ~ 2 inches tall). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Are There Sanctions Against Burmese Jadeite?

    Although the US lifted the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008 in 2016, new sanctions were applied in April 2021. This round of new US sanctions targeted the Myanmar Gems Enterprise (MGE), a state-owned entity and subdivision of the Ministry of Mines responsible for all gemstone mining, distribution, and marketing in Myanmar. These sanctions do apply to jadeites imported from Myanmar after April 2021.

    Jadeite Colors

    Jadeites can occur naturally in many colors, but green enjoys the greatest popularity. “Imperial jade” of deep green color from Myanmar is very rare and expensive, and its translucency is highly prized.

    imperial jade - Myanmar
    Jadeite, Myanmar, “Imperial jade” (4.77). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Apple green and lavender or mauve colors are also popular.

    jadeite bangles
    Jadeite bangles. Photo by Margarettico. Licensed under CC By-SA 4.0.

    Seldom seen in jewelry, chloromelanite is an opaque, dark green to black jadeite. Nevertheless, lapidaries occasionally carve it into decorative objects.

    chloromelanite - Myanmar
    Chloromelanite, Myanmar (~3 inches long). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Green jadeite boulders may have a brown skin due to weathering. Lapidaries often use these for carvings. The colors in such stones can sometimes have a mottled look.

    See our guide to jade color trade names for more information on color variations.

    Jadeite Gem Materials

    Jadeites can also occur in combination with other pyroxene group minerals in solid solutions. However, these blends aren’t always considered jadeite varieties. The jadeite content of these gems materials can vary.

    Maw Sit Sit

    Maw sit sit is a lapidary rock found only near the Myanmar village it's named after. It has a dark green color with black spots and green veins. Specimens typically contain jadeite (15%), kosmochlor (sometimes called ureyite), albite feldspar, and other minerals.

    maw sit sit, Myanmar
    Maw sit sit, 43.15 cts, 33.6 x 28.6 mm, rectangular tablet, Hpakan, Myanmar. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

    Omphacite

    Omphacite may contain jadeite, augite, and aegirine.

    Jadeitite

    Stone made almost entirely of jadeite is called jadeitite.

    Jadeitite
    Jadeitite, Kachin State, Myanmar. Photo by James St. John. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

    Turkish Purple Jade

    A purplish jadeite/quartz gem rock occurs in Bursa, Turkey. It's unique to this location. Its composition can vary from 40% to 60% jadeite.

    purple jadeite-quartz mix - Turkey
    Turkish purple jade from Bursa Province, northwestern Turkey. Photo by James St. John. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

    Identifying Characteristics

    Jadeite has a distinctive absorption spectrum useful in identification. It has a strong line at 4375 and weak bands at 4500 and 4330. The 4375 line is diagnostic but may not be seen in rich, deep green material, which has a chromium spectrum: strong line at 6915, weak at 6550 and 6300.

    Are There Synthetic Jadeites?

    General Electric (GE) has successfully synthesized jadeite in the laboratory. In the 1980s, the first results had refractive index, specific gravity, absorption spectra, and fluorescence similar to natural stones but had greater hardness, up to 8, and color and texture differences. Several different colors were created, but the green material wasn't considered gem-quality. However, in 2002, GE synthesize green material that rivaled "imperial jade" in quality. These results were similar to natural jadeites except for differences in its visible light and infrared absorption spectra.

    GE hasn't commercially released synthetic jadeites.

    Jadeite Imitations

    Many simulants or lookalike materials appear on the market. Some natural gemstones that may be passed off as jadeites are calcite, green idocrase (erroneously referred to as “American jade”), aventurine (erroneously referred to as “Indian jade”), serpentine (erroneously referred to as “Korean jade”), and green hydrogrossular garnet (erroneously referred to as “Transvaal jade”). You may even encounter green-dyed marble sold as “Mexican jade.” See our list of jade misnomers for more examples.

    Some assembled triplet gems may have a translucent jadeite top and bottom but a filling of green-dyed cement, which can mimic “imperial jade.”

    Glass and plastic can also be used to simulate jade.

    faux jade - vintage brooch
    Costume jade brooch, faux jade in vintage filigree setting. Photo by Housing Works Thrift Shops. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

    Do Jadeites Receive Enhancements?

    Grayish jadeites can be stained to resemble “imperial jade” or dyed to take on a mauve color.

    Bleaching, or acid treatments, and wax or polymer impregnation are occasionally used to improve color and luster. Polymer coatings are stable treatments. Gemologists grade jadeites and nephrites according to the types of treatments they receive.

    • “A” jade refers to untreated, natural jadeite or nephrite. This material may have a wax coating, but no other treatment should be present.
    • “B” jade refers to material that has undergone bleach and polymer treatment.
    • “C” jade contains dye.
    • Jade pieces with both polymer treatments and dyeing are designated "B+C" jade.

    Jadeites are more likely to undergo treatments than nephrites.

    Jadeite Grading - Hong Kong
    A leaflet on jade grading, from Hong Kong's Jade Market. Photo by David Boté Estrada. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

    Where are Jadeites Found?

    Notable gem-quality sources include the following:

    • Myanmar: source of “imperial jade.”
    • Guatemala: rare blue stones.
    • Russia: apple green-colored material at some localities; also fine translucent, Cr-rich material at the Kantegir River, West Sayan.
    • San Benito County, California: lenses and nodules in chert, various colors.
    • France; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Mexico; Turkey.

    How to Care for Jadeite Jewelry

    Natural, untreated jadeites may withstand mechanical cleaning. However, acid treatments can create cracks in an otherwise very durable material. Not sure if your jewelry or carving has received treatments? Stick to warm water, detergent, and a soft brush or have your piece examined by a gem lab. Consult our gemstone care guide and gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

    Jadeite pin
    Jadeite, Myanmar (pin ~ 2 inches across). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

    Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

    Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


    Donald Clark, CSM IMG

    The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”


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