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The Crystal Tree: Jade


In this Crystal Tree article, we take a look at the different types of Jade and its history, as well as where Jade is found. Wondering what Jade is? Keep reading to find out!

Jade has been used by civilizations since the Stone Age, trading carved objects as currency, making weapons, jewellery and decorative pieces. Historically, China has valued Jade for both religious and medicinal properties, with Jade objects and artworks being highly prized culturally. The Olmecs, Maya, and Aztecs of Meso-America made ceremonial objects and jewelry from jadeite. They valued this material more than gold. Its name comes from the Spanish piedras de ijada, meaning “stone of the loins” as Jade was believed to heal kidney ailments.

Different types of Jade have been used since the Stone Age for artworks and trade items


Jade is actually the name for two different silicate mineral forms, Jadeite and Nephrite. These two minerals can be identical in appearance and are similar in their physical properties. They were thought to be one mineral type until 1863, when it was discovered that they are scientifically different. It is said, however, that the Chinese knew of two different forms more than a century earlier. Yu was the Jade material they had traditionally carved (Nephrite). Fei-ts’ui was the name for the intense green Jade material that began to enter China from Burma (Myanmar) in the mid 18th century (Jadeite).

Jade ornaments carvings 1
Ornamental carvings of Jade dating back centuries

Jade is mined in many locations around the world. Both Jadeite and Nephrite are found in Russia, China, and Guatemala. Nephrite deposits of varying quality have been discovered in both the Swiss Alps and New Zealand. Western Canada has yielded some beautiful dark green stones termed “Canada Jade.”

What is Jadeite Jade

Jadeite is a sodium aluminum silicate, composed of tightly packed microscopic crystals. Jadeite is not as dense as Nephrite and is more prone to chipping. Jadeite Jade is the rarer and more valuable form of Jade. It is most prized in its pure green variety, but can be found in many colors ranging from red, pink, black, brown, white, and even violet with variations of colors overlapping one another.

What is Jade Jadeite

The most in-demand Jadeite stones can be sourced back to Myanmar, formerly Burma, and are known as “Burmese Jade.” These have become exceedingly rare and valuable due to the country’s political upheavals and trade restrictions.

Left: Jadeite – Sodium Aluminum Silicate from Burma (image source: Wikipedia)

What is Nephrite Jade

Nephrite is a calcium magnesium silicate, composed of extremely dense mineral fibers that are interlocked and very tough. Nephrite is softer and more prone to scratches. It is also the more common of the two.

What is Jade Nephrite_jordanow_slaski Wiki

Nephrite’s colour scale is more limited, with the most commonly found colors being green to grey-green stones, white to yellowish stones, and yellow to reddish stones.

Left: Nephrite Jade from Jordanow Slaski (image source Wikipedia)

What is Imperial / Emerald Jade

Imperial Jade

Imperial or Emerald Jade is a term given to deep emerald-green, translucent form of Jadeite.

Left: Imperial or Emerald Jade, a form of Jadeite

What is Grossularite / Transvaal Jade

hydrogrossular garnierite transvaal jade

Not true Jade. Massive veins of opaque Hydrogrossular Garnet that resembles Jade. It is white to light green in color, and may be colored in a white, green, and pink combination.

Left: Hydrogrossular Garnierite also called Transvaal Jade

What is Russian Jade

russian jade

Spinach-green Jade from the Lake Baikal area in Russia.

Left: Russian Jade from Lake Baikal area

What is Chrysomelanite Jade

chrysomelanite jade

Chrysomelanite is an opaque, dark green to black Jadeite, sometimes dark green with black speckles or lines.

Left: Chrysomelanite Jadeite

Have a look at our Jade products currently available!

Read more on our Crystal Tree series HERE! And have a look at the full Crystal Tree to learn more about the Dana system of crystal classification.


Minerals are classified according to their chemical composition into families or classes. This system is called the Dana System, created by Professor James Dana of Yale University  in 1848.