HomeCompanyProject StatusPropertiesJade TradeMerchantCharacteristicsMetaphysical

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 physical properties.

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.

Physical Properties

Ca2(Mg,Fe)5 Si8O22(OH)2
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

green, white, black, lavender

white, green
300 C; 9 kb
500 C; 2 kb
veins, pods,intergrowth
  • 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

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The Jade Trade

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.

  • 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 kilogram.
Photography by Erica & Harold Van Pelt

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Merchant Class Descriptions

Imperial Maya
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

Veta Verde
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

Olmec Blue
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

Midnight Blue
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 market class. GIA Certification: Jadeite; Pyroxene Ratio: Jd/Di 65:35

Ventana Blue
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 gem variants. 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.

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Physical Characteristics

Opaque material 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”.

Translucent material 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".

Fluorescent stones 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.

Colorless highly-translucent 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".

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Metaphysical Properties

Jade vibrates 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'.

Jade is 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 in life.

Jade was 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.

Jade was 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.

Jade has 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.

Jade is 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 of purpose.

Jade is 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.

Jade is 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 generations.

Jade was 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 House.
“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.

The Virtues of Jade

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.

Jade protects 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.

Jade slows 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.

Jade brings 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).

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© Ventana Mining Company 2011