Image taken from
Jewelry Central

GO 340 Gemstones & Gemology
ES 567 Gemstones of the World
Dr. Susan Ward Aber, Geologist & Gemologist
Emporia State University
Emporia, Kansas USA


Jadeite Jade is a sodium aluminum silicate, NaAl(Si2O6), that is primarily green but may be other colors as well. It has an extremely tough tenacity because of the tightly woven felt-like fibers. Jade's hardness is 6.5-7 and the specific gravity is 3.30-3.38. The fracture is splintery. It has no pleochroism or fluorescence. Jade has a waxy luster and is translucent to opaque. It is in the monoclinic crystal system.

Jade, or yu, has been treasured in China for 5,000 years; the Chinese character for jade is similar to the capital letter I with a line across the middle, which translates to the heavens (top horzontal line), earth (bottom line), and mankind (center) (Jewelry Central). Although jadeite jade was imported from Myanmar (Burma) as early as the thirteenth century, much of the ancient jade used for carving in China was nephrite jade, a calcium magnesium iron silicate. Many stones believed to be sacred were simply referred to as "jade." Jadeite and nephrite were not distinguished as separate minerals until the 19th century. Jadeite jade commands the higher price today, because of its rarity, translucency, and vivid green color.

Jadeite jade is found in green, lavender, pink, yellow, and white. Nephrite jade comes in less intense dark spinach greens, white, browns, and black. Jadeite comes from Myanmar and Guatemala, while nephrite may be found in Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and Wyoming in the US. Jade boulders from Myanmar are sold with only a small window cut with which to examine the interior. Fashioned jade is sold by the piece, not the carat, with quality determined by translucency, texture, and pattern. It is often cut en cabochon or the flat donut-shaped, or pi, pendant.

An excellent article on jadeite jade is available at, for part one, and, for part two.

Nephrite jade is likely for this huge sculpted animal. Photo by S.W. Aber, 2/2008, Tucson Gem Shows.

Image taken from
Jewelry Central
To learn more about jade visit websites created by former GO 340 students and more:
  • Lee Clayton Sneed
  • Jacob Bray
  •, Mineral Galleries
  •, Gem Hut
  •, The Image

  • References

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    This page originates from the Earth Science department for the use and benefit of students enrolled at Emporia State University. For more information contact the course instructor, S. W. Aber, e-mail: Thanks for visiting! Webpage created: November 15, 2000; last update: August 30, 2012.

    Copyright 1999-2012 Susan Ward Aber. All rights reserved.