How Jade Differs
Genuine jade or “Yu”, as it is called in China, is strictly speaking a generic term for two different gems: jadeite or nephrite. Both variations of jade are tough stones that don't break or chip easily.
Jadeite and nephrite are both regarded in China as genuine jade. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that mineralogists and gemologists started to differentiate between them, since they bear a considerable resemblance to each other in terms of their appearance, their hardness and the properties they exhibit when being processed.
Both are tough, since they consist of dense, close-grained, matted aggregates, but they differ from one another in their chemical composition and colors.
Nephrite ranges mainly from mid to dark green or pale green, but it can also be white, yellowish or reddish. It ranks at about 6.5 on the Mohs scale. Because it is softer than jadeite, finished Nephrite pieces cannot be as highly polished.
Rarer, and somewhat tougher, jadeite is therefore the most expensive. Jadeite displays hues which include greens, white or pink, lavender, yellows and oranges, browns and violets, blacks and reds. It ranks at about 7 on the Mohs scale, compared to 10 for a diamond, but jadeite is a tough mineral that resists chipping and breaking.
Both nephrite and jadeite often have veins, blemishes and streaks running through them, though these may not always be regarded as flaws. On the contrary, some of these patterns are considered particularly valuable. In both minerals, the way the color is distributed varies a great deal. Only in the very finest jade is the color evenly distributed.
Learn more About Jade:
History of Jade
How Jade Differs
How to Make Jade Jewelry
How to Identify Jade Quality
How to Care For Jade Jewelry