Jadeite Vs Nephrite – Differences and Similarities

Jadeite Vs Nephrite – Differences and Similarities

You’re at the right place if you’re looking to know the differences and similarities between jadeite and nephrite gemstones. Keep reading!

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about jadeite and nephrite stones along with answering some of the most frequently asked questions about them including:

  • What are some of the properties of jadeite stones?
  • Are Chinese jade stones nephrites?
  • Do jade stones have the same hue?

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Jadeite Vs Nephrite

Origin – Jadeite and Nephrite Stones

Jadeite is a jade variety. Most people tend to believe that all jade stones are similar, they couldn’t be more wrong. However, jade stones always comprise of nephrite jade or jadeite jade although the two jade stones have a lot in common with a few differences.

Of the two jade gemstones, jadeite is rarer. It’s less abundant and more valuable as compared to nephrite jade stones. Generally, both jadeite and nephrite have been around since time immemorial. Ancient cultures used minerals and gemstones alike in jewelry and other metaphysical purposes.

However, both varieties share the same meaning when it comes to crystals. People believed that nephrite and jadeite helped relieve kidney stones pain and other ailments that fall in same category. The Roman used to call it lapis nephriticus that directly translates to kidney stones which is literally stone of the kidneys.

Green is the traditional color of jade which often symbolizes good fortune, money and wealth. Jade stones are usually prized and valued in Asian cultures although they’re not quite popular in the West and Western diamond retailers.

That’s just about if for the similarities between jadeite and nephrite stones.

Jadeite Stones

Both nephrite and jadeite are jade stones. However, they have different chemical compositions and also grow differently. People discovered that there are two different types of jade stones after a very long time.

Jadeite comes from the famous pyroxene group of minerals. It’s mainly found among serpentine that’s usually extracted from olivine rocks as it rarely occurs in natural crystal form. However, it can occur in alluvial boulders.

You can find different localities of jade in different parts of the world. Some of the most valuable jadeite gemstones come from Myanmar – Burma. You can find other varieties In New Zealand, Russia, Guatemala, Japan and Mexico among others.

Nephrite Stones

Nephrite occurs in a few colors as compared to those of jadeite. Plus, it’s not rare which makes getting hold of high-quality nephrite a lot easier.

Nephrite is quite popular in China although most jade collectors always look for Imperial jade – jadeite. Nephrite makes a huge percentage of the jade available in Chine markets. As earlier mentioned, jadeite and nephrite have different chemical compositions and also grow differently.

Nephrite jade is calcium magnesium iron silicate while jadeite is sodium aluminium silicate. Just like jadeite, nephrite has been around since time immemorial. However, that’s because people didn’t know that there are two different varieties of jade. This happened for the longest time up until Alexis Damor, a French minerologist brought the difference of the two gemstones to people’s attention.

Unlike jadeite, nephrite grows in larger forms that’s why it’s best suited for bigger jade items, ceremonial objects and carvings. Nephrite is equally tough and for that reason, it was used in the battle armor. It usually occurs in metamorphic rocks with iron and magnesium.

For the most part, you can find nephrite in rolled boulders. Some of the biggest nephrite occurrences are New Zealand, United States, Taiwan, Canada and China.

Appearance – Jadeite Vs Nephrite


Imperial jade otherwise known as imperial green is one of the most sought-after jadeite color varieties. You cannot find jadeite as cut or faceted gemstones. High-quality jadeite stones become décor ornaments, art pieces and carvings.

As earlier mentioned, jadeite features a rich green hue from Myanmar although they come in different color varieties. There are many different shades of green, others are known as moss in snow, spinach, apple green or glassy. Jadeite’s Olmec blue hue is quite rare albeit not high in demand.

Olmec blue jadeite stone is equally valuable. Most people always confuse red jadeite with Burma’s pigeon red rubies owing to their similarity in color. However, rubies from Burma are more valuable.

What’s more, jadeite occurs as colorless, white, yellow brown, yellow, brown, gray, black and lavender. Jadeite stones contain aluminum that makes it occur in a range of colors. These gemstones can be opaque to translucent as well.

Clear translucency white jade can be cut to stunning white pieces that are equally translucent with eerie glow.

Imitations and Synthetics

You can’t find jadeite commercially even though its lab created. However, you’ll find gemstones and other different materials that imitate jadeite. Some of the most common imitations of jadeite stones include a range of green stones such as dyed chalcedony, glass, amazonite, malachite, dyed quartz and serpentine.


Just like jadeite, nephrite occurs in a range of colors too albeit fewer than those of its counterpart. Nephrite comes in green hues that aren’t as bright as imperial jade. This popular green stone is olive-green, yellow-green, brown, yellow and beige to creamy white popularly known as mutton fat.

Imitations and Synthetics

You can’t find jadeite and nephrite commercially although both of the stones are lab synthesized. Besides, just like jadeite stones, nephrite can also be imitated to resemble jadeite. Some of the most common nephrite imitations include amazonite, serpentine, chrysoprase and pectolite.

Different Trade Names and Mixed Jade

You can find both nephrite and jadeite within other different rocks unlike most gemstones. This makes telling the difference between the two more confusing especially to those who aren’t conversant with gemstones. For instance, Turkish purple jade has more than 50% authentic jade composition which is quite the opposite with lilac jade. This means that it’s a jade stone but not entirely.

Here’s a highlight of a range of jade gemstones combinations along with trade names that you should steer clear of since they don’t have jade at all:

  • Korean Jade, New Jade, Xiuang Jade – Serpentine jade with about 50% nephrite
  • Transvaal Jade – It’s grossular jade
  • Malaysia Jade – It’s usually quartz or dyed chalcedony
  • Indian Jade – It’s green aventurine
  • Mountain Jade – Its high-quality color enhanced or dyed dolomite marble
  • Australian Jade – Chrysoprase is the actual stone

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Price – Jadeite Vs Nephrite

Jade item prices heavily depend on the type and piece of jade. Nephrite and jadeite stones have different prices. Save for that, treatments also determine the price of the jade stones.

Treated Jade

When it comes to colored stones, gemstone treatments are quite common. There are different types of treatments – temporary and permanent. Remember, the latter can’t be altered.

Dyes is one of the most common treatments for jadeite stones. Sellers normally go for less interesting, white and green hues then dye them to achieve a rich green shade. The price of dyed jade is relatively low. Nephrite cannot be dyed owing to its high density. However, it can be subjected to other types of treatments such as polymer impregnation.

Classifications of Jadeite

  • Type A Jade

Type A jade stones are natural without any chemical compositions. It might probably have a wax coating but that doesn’t necessarily mean that its value is compromised.

  • Type B Jade

If a jade stone falls in this category, it has probably had polymer impregnation or has been subjected to chemical bleaching.

  • Type C Jade

If a jade stone is classified as type C jade, then it’s an actual jade even though its dyed.

  • Type B and C Jade

A combination of type B and C jade means that it’s an authentic jade although it has been chemically bleached and dyed or undergone other types of treatments.

The seller should be able to tell you whether or not the gemstone has been subjected to any kind of treatment. However, this is not always the case especially in gem markets. If you’re buying natural untreated jadeite at a relatively high price, always ensure that it comes with a jade certificate.

Jade stones that are classified as type A jade cost $100 or thereabout per carat when cabochon cut. Figurines and carvings cost a lot more. Nephrite, on the other hand is relatively affordable as it goes for as low as $7 per carat.

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Value – Jadeite Vs Nephrite

Both jadeite and nephrite make durable jewelry. They don’t have any gemstone cleavage. Gemstone cleavage is supposedly one of the most important factors that you need to look out for when it comes to the overall durability of the gemstone to breaks and chips.

The hardness rating is what differentiates jadeite from nephrite. The former has a 6.5 to 7 rating on Mohs scale. Nephrite is softer rating at 6 to 7. Performing a scratch test will also help you tell the two gemstones apart. Nephrite scratches.


Both nephrite and jadeite make excellent gemstones for jewelry. However, most of the times they’re carved and cut to figurines, images and ornaments within the stone. They’re quite tough with great hardness.  Jadeite has an edge over nephrite when it comes to scratch resistance.

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