Jadeite vs nephrite
Although famous for its green, pure jade is actually white, with impurities forming green, red, yellow, pink, white, violet, orange, blue-green and brown.
Jadeite is usually more vivid in color than nephrite.
Jadeite is the only one that produces the highly prized emerald green jade called Imperial Jade.
Jadeite gets this emerald color from chromium.
Other colors are also formed from impurities.
Brown indicates the presence of iron and Violet, manganese.
Jadeite is found in Burma, California, Guatemala, Russia, and Japan.
Only the jadeite found in Burma is of the gemstone grade; they are cut and carved in many Asian countries like Burma, Thailand, and China and then sold.
Jadeite from Burma was not introduced into the Chinese market before the late 1800s.
Burmese jadeite's replacement of nephrite came quickly as the preferred stone due to the unique colors of the Burmese jadeite (green, lavender, yellow, and orange) and its greater translucent quality).
Today jadeite from Burma suggests fine quality jadeite.
Different colors of jadeite
What are the different types of Jadeite you can find in the market?
The jadeite showing up on the market presently can be classified into A jade, B jade, C jade, and B+C jade.
A- Jade indicates natural jadeite without undergoing any artificial treatment, alteration, or enhancement.
Such kind of natural jadeite does not change with time.
It can be preserved forever and wears well. (Only A jade will appreciate in value)
B- Jade is defined as the natural jadeite having undergone a process of acid treatment, removed the impurities, and impregnated with colloidal silica or resin.
Typically, this kind of jadeite will gradually turn out yellow in 3-5 years, and then the surface color will come off due to the aging of resin or colloid.
Meanwhile, the composition of the inherent texture of jadeite has been destroyed during the acid treatment, which immediately affects its durability.
C-Jade is specified as the natural jadeite having undergone artificial treatment, plus adding the new pigment substance.
We may also say that its internal texture has been undermined, and its internal color was artificially added.
B+C Jade- Jade has been impregnated with colloidal silica or resin as well as a dye with pigment substance.
Type B jadeite
Type C jadeite
Type B+C jadeite
The Chinese have used Jade for many thousand years.
A jade culture was subsequently developed and made significant progress in Chinese history.
Amongst others, jade is closely related to Chinese idioms, Chinese characters, Chinese poems, Chinese religion, daily utensils, relics unearthed from the ancient tombs, the imperial seals of different dynasties ... to name a few.
Even the medals used in Beijing in 2008 were partially made out of jade.
What is Nephrite?
Pure nephrite is white.
Nephrite is usually green or creamy white, but can also be beige, yellow, blue or black and often contains veins of color.
The presence of iron provides the green in nephrite.
One has to remember that nephrite is softer than jadeite, the luster is weaker, and the price is much lower than jadeite.
A good quality jadeite bangle may cost you US$10,000, while a good quality nephrite may cost only US$500.
That is why as a tourist in the Far East (namely, China, Hong Kong Taiwan, Singapore, etc.), you may be conned to pay for the price of jadeite when you are given a nephrite.
Most of the time, they are selling you jadeite look-alikes.
Good quality jadeite can never be cheap!!! It is in short supply, and price appreciates yearly.
What is the jadeite that you can find in the market?
Unscrupulous gem dealers can also have other stones; they sometimes try to sell you as being jadeite.
Here is a list of them.
How do you grade jadeite?
Right now, there is no common system to grade Jadeite in the market (like the 4C system used to grade the diamonds).
However, the 4C2T1V model is widely used in China and Hong Kong.
Step 1: Grade the color in terms of Tone, Hue, Saturation, and Evenness (same as for most colored stones).
It is best to view the color under the sunlight.
The price will decrease if the jadeite it too blue or too yellow.
It will also be worthless if the color is very uneven.
Step 2: Grade the Craftsmanship in terms of Shape, Cut, proportion, thickness, symmetry, and polishing standards.
This step, even if most of it is directly related to technical issues, also refers a lot to the design and overall aesthetic of the piece.
Step 3: Clarity refers to the types of inclusions found in the jadeite.
The presence of different types of mineral will make a certain part of the jadeite black, brown, or white, and the color can be in the form of spots, silk-like, or vein-like.
The shape, size, and location of the inclusions will affect the jadeite's valuation, more so for high-quality jadeite.
Step 4: Grade the cracks and clarity to take down the value depending on the size of the cracks and whether naked eyes can spot them.
Step 5: Grade transparency.
Jadeite transparency is characterized by one of the following terms:
Transparent jadeite is more valuable than opaque jadeite.
And the price can differ many hundred times.
The left one is considered opaque as you can't see the lines below.
The one in the middle is considered translucent, as you can see the lines below vaguely.
And the right one is considered transparent as you can see the two lines below vividly; hence it is highly valued.
Step 6: Texture refers to the internal characteristics of the jadeite under magnification.
A cluster of microscopic crystals forms jadeite.
The chemical bonding and the atomic structure within the jadeite will affect its luster and transparency.
The smaller the size of the crystals, the finer the texture; hence the more valuable the jadeite is.
Step 7: Grade the volume of the completed piece and adjust the valuation.
The valuation is based on the type of finished products, and the wastage for that product.
The higher the wastage, the more expensive is the finished product.
And without carving will be more valuable than the one with carving, since they designers carve away the problem spots or cracks in the material.
Everything being equal, bangles will be more expensive than pendants, cabochons, and display items (valuation is in that order).
Tips to buy jadeite
First, you must, obviously, determine whether it is jadeite.
A quick trick for that: only jadeite has a vitreous luster.
Nephrite is greasy, and most of the look-alikes are either greasy or waxy.
After you made sure that what you behold really is jadeite, you must determine whether the material has undergone any kind enhancements or treatments.
Using a 10X loupe
The table below shows how you can use naked eyes, 10X loupe, and other instruments to distinguish between Type A and B jadeite.
In general, more than one color can be found in a piece of jadeite.
The green rarely evenly displayed in the jadeite.
On a piece of white jadeite, the green color may be in the dots, veins-like, strips, and spots with different tones and intensity.
If the greenness seems unnatural (or is too beautiful), it may be dyed.
Since the hardness of a standard knife (5.5) is lower than that of jadeite (6.5-7) when you use the knife to scratch the jadeite, no mark will be left behind.
On the other hand, you will find a scratching mark on glass if you use jadeite for scratching it.
Since this is a destructive test, you can always ask the seller to do the test for you, since he claims to sell you the jadeite.
Specific Gravity Test
The most effective way is to measure the gemstone's specific gravity (jadeite: 3.25-3.36 and nephrite: 2.90-3.02, jadeite being heavier).
Carrying a pocket scale can be proven handy, but it can be a little tricky to find another piece more or less the same size as the one you want to buy!
The final tip to buy jadeite
If the jadeite you want to purchase is of high value, it is always worthwhile to pay for an independent report to confirm what you are buying is genuine Type A jadeite.
Where can you buy cheap and good Jadeite Jade?
Most of these towns are in Mainland China.
-Guangzhou Hualin Jade Market (广州华林）
-Sihui Jade Market （广东四會）
-Pingzhou Jade Market（广东平洲）
-Jieyang Jade Market （广东揭阳）
-Yunnan Ruili Jade Market（雲南瑞丽）
I have not been to Ruili so I can't comment on it.
It is a town bordering Myanmar -the source of Jadeite.
Jieyang is noted for its workmanship.
You have to pay a high premium there.
Pingzhou is well known for its Jade Bangles for the whole sellers.
Sihui has a morning market that starts from 3 am till 9 am.
The quality is not that good; therefore, the price is very cheap!
A lot of Type B, C, and B+C can be found at this place.
Guangzhou Hualin is the most accessible place to buy if you are a tourist.
More than a thousand stalls are selling excellent to average pieces.
Most booths only accept cash; no credit cards allowed.
The price is slightly higher compared with other places, and you might need to bargain hard.
There is a street nearby known as Rubbish Street selling all kinds of inferior quality jadeite.