Friday, June 19, 2009

The Jade, Nephrite, Serpentine and Aventurine Confusion

I get a lot of questions regarding these stones. Rightfully so, there is much confusion due to marketing names, misrepresentations and misunderstandings. To begin with and hopefully not add too much to the confusion, there are two types of jade. Nephrite and jadeite, for centuries jadeite and nephrite were considered the same stones. With more modern techniques of identification differences between the two stones were found. Thus splitting the stones into the two categories. Both stones are available in a wide range of similar colors, off or grayish white to grey greens to green, browns and red browns. Jadeite jade is also found in emerald green (imperial jade) and pale purples. These last two colors considered more desirable and more expensive. In general the stronger and richer colors of these stones are found in jadeite form and creamier tones in the nephrite form. Only jadite is found in precious gem stone quality. The two photos below are carved jadite showing the variation in colors from nearly white to deep emerald green.

Telling the difference between the two stones is difficult. Jadeite is slightly harder than nephrite. This cannot be determined by looking or touching. A gemstone-testing device can be helpful, however if this is not available to you, knowing the stones origin can be a clue. Jadeite has been found in Burma, Canada, China, Japan, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Siberia and the United States. Nephrite has been found in Australia, China, Brazil, Canada, Zimbabwe, Alaska and Poland. Below is a photo of Canadian nephrite below that Chinese nephrite.

Some marketing names I have encountered around the use of the name jade are:

· New Jade – a yellow translucent stone, this is serpentine

· Indian Jade – a green translucent to opaque stone, this is aventurine

· Wyoming Jade – nephrite

· Canadian Jade – nephrite

· African Jade - jasper

Below are photos of some of these stones. Top New Jade, 2nd down Aventurine, below that are two examples of serpentine and the bottom photo is African Jade.


  1. You have some fine photography here. I look forward to seeing more.

  2. Thanks, like the idea of your photo project, will look more latter when I have more time.