There are two major
types of true jade: jadeite and nephrite. Nephrite jade production primarily
occurs in China, the Russian Federation and British Columbia. At present, the
vast majority of jadeite jade production emanates from only three sources Myanmar
(Burma), the Russian Federation and Guatemala. Because of its exquisite beauty
and rarity, jadeite is the most precious and sought after jade found in the world.
The main differences between jadeite and nephrite are in their chemistry and
Jadeite (NaAlSi2O6) is
of the pyroxene mineral group and exhibits a fine crystalline structure which
can be worked to a high-polish luster. Jadeite is tougher than steel and is comprised
of three distinct class types: opaque, translucent and fluorescent . Jadeite
can be found in numerous shades of green, white, yellow, red, lavender, and as
recently discovered in Guatemala, blue. Translucent emerald green jadeite, commonly
know as "Imperial" jade, often demands prices in excess of $5,000 per
carat. Jadeite jade has a hardness of 6.5 to 7 (similar to quartz), but exceptional
toughness (resistance to chipping and breaking). Jadeite jade is actually tougher
than diamond, but obviously not as hard.
Nephrite (Ca2 (Mg, Fe)
Si8O22 (OH2)) is of the amphibole mineral group is known for its strong fibrous
structure and waxy luster.
3.24 – 3.40
2.90 – 3.10
1.666 – 1.680
1.606 – 1.632
6.5 – 7
6 – 6.5
7.1 x 108
7.7 x 108
Cr, Fe, Mn
white, black, lavender
|AVERAGE P / T ORIGIN
300 C; 9 kb
500 C; 2 kb
- Hughes, et al, 2000, Burmese jade:
the inscrutable gem, Gems & Gemology, v. 36, No. 1, p. 2-28.
- Johnson, C.A., and Harlow, G.E.,
1999, Guatemala jadeites and albites were formed by deuterium-rich serpentinizing
fluids deep within a subduction zone, Geology, V. 27, No. 7, p. 629-632
Both forms of jade (jadeite and nephrite) are among the
highest priced minerals in the world and achieved record price levels in late
2010. Jade is experiencing unprecedented demand in China due to rising disposable
incomes and increased spending on luxury items. On average, the price of the
finest jade has increased tenfold during the past decade and recently experienced
a 50% rise in one quarter.
There is extremely wide dispersion in jade pricing due to
the subjective evaluation of its overall appearance which considers coloration,
translucence and granularity.
Photography by Erica & Harold Van Pelt
- Jade rough pieces can range in price from USD $5
per kilogram to USD $600,000 per kilogram. Translucent
green jadeite rough from traditional Burmese (Myanmar) sources often commands
prices from USD $1,700 per kilogram to over USD $600,000.
- Contrary to popular belief, there are no jadeite jade deposits
in China. White nephrite from Chinese provinces has been selling for USD $1,250
to $5,000 per kilogram while a type of nephrite referred to as "mutton fat white" has
sold for a staggering USD $100,000 per kilogram.
- Other alternative sources of jade rough, such as Russian
Federation jadeite has been recently valued at around USD $10 to USD $20 per
kilogram. Canadian green nephrite averages about USD $20 per kilogram with some
extremely high quality Canadian nephrite reportedly selling for USD $500 per
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Beloved to the Maya people of ancient Mesoamerica, and their descendants in Guatemala
today, is a bright "candy apple" green variety of jadeite jade. This
jade is known from the archaeological record of the Maya civilization and was
most often fashioned as beads and earrings. Traditionally, the best of this jade was reserved for the exclusive use of Maya Kings, and for this reason it is considered the "Imperial Jade" of the Maya culture.
GIA Certification: Jadeite; Pyroxene Ratio: Jd/Di 100:0
Prior to the rise of the Maya Kings, the ancestral Olmec people dominated the
cultural landscape of Mesoamerica. The Olmec preferred a distinctly different
variety of jade than the Maya, one that has a deep chromium green color and is
highly translucent. The primary sources of this jade have been lost for nearly 500 years.
GIA Certification: Omphacite; Pyroxene Ratio: Jd/Di 55:45
Identical to the jade worked in antiquity by the
Olmec culture is a popular jewelry grade material, readily available in Guatemala
today, known as Olmec Blue. This jadeite is often characterized by the presence
of white spots, a result of an included accessory mineral (sphene), and was a
favorite of the Olmec people (as evidenced in the artifact record). Olmec type
jades characteristically exhibit a homogenous texture, a high degree of translucency
and varying degrees of bluish-green color saturation.
GIA Certification: Jadeite; Pyroxene Ratio: Jd/Di 85:15
A rare translucent lavender jade from Guatemala has been identified in two varieties.
The more common variety has a lightly saturated color (pictured above), the other,
much rarer variety, is strongly saturated in color. The lavender color is the
result of an associated manganese mineral inclusion. The lighter variety is typically
granular in texture while the strongly saturated variety is highly translucent,
lacking the granular texture and is darker in tone.
GIA Certification: Jadeite; Pyroxene Ratio: Jd/Di 100:0
A very rare translucent blue jade was discovered in Guatemala by the
Ventana team in 1999. Its intensely saturated indigo blue color is the result
of an associated titanium-rich sphene mineral inclusion and is typically dark
in tone. This new arrival on the scene may quickly develop into a new commercial
GIA Certification: Jadeite; Pyroxene Ratio: Jd/Di 65:35
Another very rare, highly translucent blue jade was discovered in Guatemala by
the Ventana team in 2000. This jade is similar in color to a dye developed by
the Classic Maya, known as Maya Blue. This new variety of blue jade is remarkably
translucent, nearly transparent, and is slightly less saturated in color than
the Midnight Blue. This unique variety is referred to by locals as “cielo
azul” for blue sky, “plastica” for plastic, and most recently
by the name "Ventana Blue".
GIA Certification: Jadeite; Pyroxene
Ratio: Jd/Di 90:10
This translucent colorless jadeite from Guatemala is actually jadeite in its
purest form; a jade without the trace mineral component that provides for the
array of color variation as shown on this page.
GIA Certification: untested; Pyroxene Ratio: none
This completely opaque, pure black mineral may not actually be a jadeite at all,
but rather an associated mineral species of pyroxenite or amphibolite. The Ventana
team is currently tested numerous sample sets to determine the exact chemical
composition. Black specimens, often referred, and sometimes sold as jade, exhibit
a very high-polish luster making them a desirable alternative to other black
GIA Certification: untested; Pyroxene Ratio: pyroxenite or amphibolite
"The ancient Amerindians preferred apple green or blue-green
varieties of jade, and from the appearance of recovered archeological objects
it appears that the more translucent the stone, the more highly it was prized.
It was thought by many peoples to possess magical or curative powers."
“Jade and Jade Objects in
Precolumbian Costa Rica”, in “Precolumbian Jade”, Frederick
W. Lange, editor, by Doris Z. Stone, Copyright 1993, by University of Utah Press.
is widespread and abundant. Varieties are known by many informal descriptive
names from many different locations. The Maya in antiquity favored an opaque,
coarsely-granular, speckled white and green stone. That green ranges to strongly
yellowish green, and is noteworthy for high saturation at light tone, despite
the opacity. It has been called Maya, and "candy apple", with the very
brightest expression called by some: “Imperial" or "Imperial
Maya". Opaque stones often display a brecciated, mottled or variegated internal
texture. They typically range from green to slightly bluish green in color, and
occur in both light and dark tones. Low saturations are strongly grayish. Back-lit
translucence on double-polished dark material less than 1 mm thick, is yellowish
green in color. Locals may call the opaque jade: "jagua" or jaguar;
mint; spinach; “manzano” or apple; among many others. A black variety,
locally pyritic, has been called “galactic”.
is readily available. "Olmec Blue" is identical to the material worked
in antiquity by the Olmec culture and is a strongly translucent stone. It typically
displays a massive, homogenous, or slightly-speckled, internal texture. Color
ranges across moderate to dark tones of green to slightly bluish green, and rarely
to strongly bluish green. Low saturations appear slightly grayish. The varieties
of Olmec Blue jade which are exceptionally pure and exhibit intense saturation
in deep tints at bluish hues have been called "princessa" or "gema",
or "Imperial Olmec".
are the focus of the high-end trade. They are rare in the market today, and rare
in the archeological record. The varieties of exceedingly-rare, highly-saturated
bright green jade may be inter-gradational. They are typically found as clots
and veinlets cutting the Olmec jade. They have been called teal for the color;
or "Chichen" for the type-locality at Chichen Itza; or “chromian” for
the chromian source of daylight fluorescence; or “Imperial” for comparison
to the best Burmese goods, or by their nahuatl names "quetzal" or "quetzalitzli" for
the bird with iridescent head feathers. Some, like teal, face-up opaque black,
but backlit they transmit bluish green to emerald green at deep tone and high
saturation, usually with swirled or mosaic internal texture. Others, called Imperial
or Chichen, both face-up and transmit strong emerald green at moderate tone and
high saturation, with generally massive internal texture. This later type goes
red to the chelsea filter. Each occurrence of this highest quality in Guatemalan
jade is somewhat unique.
stones with massive to weakly porphyritic texture, range from transparent to
white, but occasionally show pale tints of pink and purple. It has been called:
white; or "luna" for moon; or "lila" for lilac; or “hielo” for
ice. It was seldom worked in antiquity, but is used increasingly today as an
accent stone. An exotic retrograde with heterogeneous mineralogy and lesser translucence,
shows a faint mosaic of harlequin colors, especially back lit, and has been called:
lavender; or “Liberace-rock".
to the master numbers 9 and 11. Jade was a sacred
element in the cosmology of the Mayan Zodiac. It is most compatible
with the astrological signs of Aries, Gemini, Taurus, and Libra. Jade in the
presence of crystal quartz or diamond has been used to expedite meditative travel
into the realm of the 'all-knowing'.
known as a Dream Stone.
It improves our remembering of dreams and assists in 'dream-solving'. It can
be used to release suppressed emotions via the dream process; for this activity,
a piece of jade is placed under the pillow prior to sleep. Jade allows one spiritual
access to the basic rituals and knowledge used during the Maya 'dreamtime'. It
furthers the connection with the elders of the Maya culture, assisting one in
obtaining the necessary insights for performing the ceremonial services. As the
visible world is nourished by the invisible, humanity can be sustained and preserved
by the lovely visions of dreamers. One who reveres a beautiful vision of the
ideal can utilize the energies of jade to assist in realizing those thoughts
revered in the Maya culture as a Stone
of Fidelity, the Sovereign of Harmony, facilitating peace within
the physical, emotional, and intellectual structures, as well as within the materialistic
world. It was said to bring accord to the environment, to transmute negativity,
and to instill resourcefulness. The jadeite, especially the rich dark hues of
green, as well as the most intense black, is a stone appropriate for kings and
gods. It enhances expressiveness, intelligence, and perception, bringing realization
of one’s potential and devotion to one’s purpose. Jade helps one
to be adept at that which is chosen. It assists one in attaining the royal realm
of comfort and elegance, providing for stabilization, via grounding, to the limitless
resources of the universe.
exalted by the Olmec, Maya and Aztec cultures as a Stone
of Magic, bringing to fruition, in times of need, the protective
forces of the ethers. It represented high status, and the best jade was reserved
for the shamans and the elite of the realm. The Maya word for jade, tun, was
also the word for the number one. Jade was carved in the form of deities, representing
aspects of protection and favorable fortunes. Jade helps one to cherish one’s
desires and facilitates the building of one’s dreams in this physical reality.
It releases one’s limitations such that permission is granted which allows
one to actualize aspirations and to attain limitless achievements. It inspires
and induces ambition toward the accomplishment of objectives. It helps to attune
one to the needs and inspires wisdom during the assessment of problems. It promotes
the balancing of ones needs with the requirements of the day, allowing one to
recognize and to care for that which is of prime importance to well being.
been used by the ancients, as well as by some of the tribes today, as a Sacred
Stone, assisting one in access to the spiritual worlds. It is said
to have brought the user a long and fruitful life with a gentle transition from
this body to the spiritual world. Family members lovingly placed a piece of sacred
jade into the mouth the deceased as they departed for the afterlife. Jade was
a reverent stone in life and death.
a Power Stone, and provides
confidence, assisting one in the attainment of self-assuredness, self-reliance,
and self-sufficiency. Jade was an insignia of rank and power. Jadeite can also
bring forth the abilities to unite and to improve dysfunctional relationships.
The emerald green variety, known as Imperial Jade, is recommended for these tasks.
It can be used to induce the cohesiveness of groups, allowing for greater understanding
between members and facilitating cohesiveness in the recognition and actualization
a Medicine Stone. It
can be used in the treatment of disorders of the heart, hips, kidneys, and spleen.
It is excellent as an elixir to soothe the skin, and to stimulate the health
of hair. It can be used in the treatment of disorders of the reproductive organs,
primarily male. It has been used to diminish and to prevent recurrence of cramps
and 'charlie horses', promoting stabilization of the muscular arrangement and
smoothing of the tissues. Jadeite acts as rather a 'stitching' agent and assists
both the cellular and skeletal structures to re-bind themselves. It also assists
in the removal of pain, especially in the sides, hips, and legs. It is associated
with 'stitching' and helps stitches to bind and heal properly.
also a Money Stone,
and was used as the principal currency in the economies of the Aztec Empire and
the realm of the Lowland Maya. Jade was a market institution, endowed with magical
and political power, which is to say political and social power. Jade obtained
its value through carving and ritual manipulation. Jade was both sacred and profane;
it could buy a turkey or say a prayer. Jade was a tool of the political state.
Jade was used for currency, treasure, and a source of magical power, all at once.
It was a form of tangible wealth and emblemage that could be transferred between
portable, capable of circulation, and amenable to both flexible display and concealment,
and was easily disposable. It was made into artifact, jewelry and amulets. The
same jade beads that could be used to count for money in trade, could be cast
as lots for the prognostication of calendar events important to the harvest.
As such, it touched the chords of fertility and virility, and permitted calculation
of the mysteries of cyclic creation.
"Love is in the Earth",
a Kaleidoscope of Crystals, by 'Melody' Copyright 1991 by "Earth-Love Publishing
“The Jade Ahau - Toward a Theory of Commodity
Value in Maya Civilization”, by David Freidel, in Precolumbian Jade, by
Frederick W. Lange, editor, Copyright 1993, University of Utah Press.
In jade are embodied the five cardinal
virtues: charity, modesty, courage, justice and wisdom. It is a stone
of serene beauty. Among the ancients the world over, jade is believed to have
three remarkable properties:
- Jade protects against disease, especially ailments of the
loins and kidneys;
- Jade slows the aging of the body,and;
- Jade brings good fortune.
against disease. Jade refreshes the blood, calms the mind, enriches the spirit,
soothes tired muscles, and nourishes the bones. It is especially effective against
gallstones and kidney stones. Jade will triumph over biliousness and disordered
blood. It can check hemorrhages. Jade is a potent medicine for reducing edema
of the feet. It can be used an implement of therapy and massage.
down the process of aging. Taoist philosophers maintained that, under proper
conditions, swallowing a small amount of jade might enable one to live a thousand
years, or to become invisible or fly through the air. The Aztecs fixed a bit
of jade to the tongue of the deceased to replace the life within. Jade was placed
over the eyes, on the chest, and under the back, to insure eternal life. It was
worn to promote youth and vigor.
good fortune. To the Chinese, jade was the quintessence of creative force. It
would insure harmony and profit. To the Mayas, it was a symbol and a passion
for life and the harvest. The Eskimos carried talismans when they went hunting
or fishing. Some spiritualists carry a polished piece of flat jade from birth
to death to insure good fortune. Jade denotes rank and sanctifies ceremony.
“Jade”, A collector’s
Blue Book, by Louis Zara, Copyright 1969, Walker and Company, New York
Photographs by: @ 2002 Erica & Harold Van Pelt;
@ 2002 Jay Graham www.jaygraham.com; and the Ventana Mining Company (point to
photo for individual credits).