About Jade (Jadeite and Nephrite)
When you hear retailers referring to jade, there are actually two different stones they could be referring to, jadeite and nephrite. Both these stones are valuable and gorgeous but they’re completely different from each other.
Most real jade you’ll find from reputable retailers in Canada is likely nephrite jade. Nephrite jade is found in Northern British Columbia and gets exported all over the world. Unlike other types of jade, such as jadeite from Burma, BC’s nephrite jade has no restrictions on exporting or importing.
When buying jade online, there’s a lot to consider. Finding a reputable seller is the first challenge but knowing more about nephrite jade can also help you get more bang for your buck.
Jadeite Vs. Nephrite
Both jadeite and nephrite are real jade but are completely different from each other. Any jade produced in China before the 18th century was likely nephrite. It was at that point jadeite became manufactured. In modern-day China, most jade is jadeite. You can still find and purchase nephrite, but it’s often very rare and much more expensive. In BC there’s no shortage of nephrite. At Artina’s, we carry nephrite or BC Jade.
As a gemstone, jadeite is often harder than nephrite. BC jade is usually between 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, making it suitable to wear often but not every day. Interestingly, jadeite can come in a variety of colours and can even appear translucent.
How Do You Determine The Quality of Jade?
Most retailers look at three components when determining the quality of jade: translucency, colour, and inclusions. When buying jade, it’s important to remember that despite what experts determine as “quality” jade, many of these aspects can be subjective. If a “lower quality” stone is more aesthetically appealing to you as the wearer, you shouldn’t worry too much about the stone’s quality.
The more translucent a stone is, the higher it's quality. With higher quality jade, more light can pass through the stone. Higher quality stones will also have almost no inclusions, as inclusions in jade are very common. You’ll often see white veins and black spots on nephrite gemstones from iron and calcium deposits. Depending on your preference, you may find these inclusions intriguing and may prefer jade stones with these unique markings.
Lastly, consistent and dark shades of imperial green are generally the highest quality of jade. Jadeite is known to produce multiple different shades from pale yellow to lavender. However, nephrite only produces greenish hues. In nephrite jade, the darker and more consistent green the stone is the higher quality of the cut.
How Is The Price of Jade Determined?
When determining price, jewellers and retailers must consider the quality of the stone, the weight, and the skill it took to create the piece. Similar to diamonds, jewellery is also priced by the amount of jade in the piece and the overall quality of the stone.
Jade is not an easy material to work with whether you’re carving trinkets or making jewellery. The amount of time and effort an artist puts into their work also determines the price. This is why you may see smaller pieces of jade at a higher price because it took more effort, skill, and time to carve the stone.
Where Does Jade Come From?
Nephrite jade is mined in Northern British Columbia. Jade from this region is thought to be of the highest quality and is one of the most sought-out gemstones.
"The newest, brightest, most translucent, greenest, hardest nephrite yet discovered.".
-Fred Ward in the Lapidary Journal, November 1998
A little outside the British Columbia/Yukon border is Jade City, a small village on Highway 37. Jade City is roughly 19 hours north of Vancouver. In this region, there’s no shortage of greenstone (lookalike jade) and nephrite. Once all the snow has melted, miners from this region export over 100 tons of jade all over the world.