How To Identify Jade

Jade jewelry is beautiful, but it can sometimes be hard to recognize a genuine gemstone from a fake. These tips should uncover the mystery on how to identify real jade.

Step 1

Jade can be made from more than one mineral. The majority of jade comes from Burma, although some can be found in Guatemala and other areas in smaller quantities. And you may not realize it, but jade can come from more than one source. Jade can be made from either jadeite or nephrite, two different minerals.

Jadeite is the rarer of the two minerals, and therefore, the most expensive. It actually varies greatly in color too, from white to yellow and black to red. If you find an evenly colored and clear (translucent) green jadeite stone, this is called Imperial jade.

Jade made from nephrite is more common. This makes it a bit cheaper as well. Nephrite has been found on every continent around the world, include the United States of America. Nephrite is not as colorful as jadeite is, but there still are a few color variations. And unlike the beautiful Imperial jade produced from jadeite, nephrite can, at best, only produce grayish and mottled green.

Step 2

Jade is strong. You can easily identify jade by testing its strength. Jade jewelry won't break or chip easily. Whereas a diamond is considered one of the hardest stones, rating at a 10 on the Mohs scale, jadeite ranks around 7 on the Mohs (hardness) scale. It is still considered a very tough mineral that is quite break-resistant. At a slightly lower rating on the Mohs scale (6.5), nephrite is somewhat softer and therefore cannot withstand high polishing like jadeite.

Step 3

Jade has a certain shine to it. As well as being strong, jade is also shiny. In general, jade has a medium to high polish.  And when you are looking to identify more valuable pieces of jade, recognize that transparent or even semi-transparent pieces of jade are worth much more money than any color of opaque jade. Highly-polished jade is in much demand these days. Basically, the clearer the stone, the better.

Step 4

Recognize the value in the color of jade. When you are preparing to buy jade, identify and choose valuable pieces that are mostly the same color (uniform). These are highly-sought after. However, in recent years, multicolor pieces of jade are becoming more popular. The best color of jade jewelry to purchase is the most intense shade of green you can find. Just beware that jade is often dyed and jewelers can use heat treatments to soften or intensify the shade of jade. Jade in other colors besides green isn't as popular, although it is still considered valuable.

Step 5

Know what else to look for. There are a few other things you should look for when identifying genuine jade and comparing it to fake jade. Real jade is more valuable when it has no cracks or visible flaws. Because nephrite is often color-intensified with heat treatment,  it can sometimes be mistakenly sold as jadeite. Beware of impostors too! Some jewelers will try to convince you that dyed quartz and other stones are actually jade when they really aren't. The best way to identify a genuine and valuable jade gemstone is to know what you're looking for and to buy from a jeweler or dealer that you trust.


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