Category: Selling Jade

Gadgets For Jewelers: 3 Must-Haves for Jewelry Store Social Media

Gadgets For Jewelers: 3 Must-Haves for Jewelry Store Social Media

Social media has become an inconvenient necessity, juxtaposing the old-world methods of goldsmiths, craftsmen, and bench jewelers. While extremely beneficial for small businesses, the hassle of social media can be overwhelming; increasing the need for strategic efficiencies that will alleviate the added stresses of Facebook, Instagram, and…dare I say it…TikTok.

When showcasing your tiny pieces of detailed artwork, the photographs are the most important part. If hosting frequent SLR macro and styled photo sessions is not a manageable system for your jewelry photography, you may consider using the device you currently hold in your hand: Your phone.

While many jewelers use LED lightboxes specifically designed for phones, I personally have not had experience with this and will instead focus on some inexpensive alternatives that cater to the convenience of photographing your recently completed work while still at the bench. These methods for better photography can also be used for sharing photos with customers if trying to make sales over the phone or the Internet.

#1. Macro Lens (Phone Attachment) for Jewelry Photography

I just recently decided to try out this inexpensive macro clip-on attachment for my phone pictures, and woah. At the low price of only $20, I regret not getting this sooner.

✓ Can use with or without phone case

✓ 3 Interchangeable lenses

✓ Cheap and easy

✓ Drastically improves photo quality

My phone is the iPhone 12 PRO Max, so the camera is already pretty good. Because of this, I didn’t think I needed gadgets to improve my phone photography. I was wrong. So very wrong!

The clip-on attachment fits my phone perfectly and can be adjusted to use on any of my 3 phone lenses. It’s small, comes with 2 other lenses for the clip-on attachment, and even has a little carrying bag with it. The attachment really shines in videos, but here you can see a side-by-side comparison of my iPhone photos with and without the attachment. Something that really surprised me about this lens was the perceived depth of field it added to my photos.

iPhone photos taken with no attachment (left) and with the macro clip-on attachment (right)

#2. Ring Light for Jewelry Photography

The ring light is lightweight, takes up very little space, and you never have to charge it. It’s not the best lighting in the world, but it’s convenient and easy to use. You will be able to see the ring in super reflective stones, so keep that in mind. It’s not super noticeable to the layman, but here is an example of how a stone may reflect the ring shape:

Photo of Mason-Kay’s Ice Jade taken with an iPhone + macro attachment and a ring light next to a window.

I actually have 2 ring lights that I recommend. They both plug in via USB so it makes them super convenient and easy to use at trade shows. If you’re wanting to use it on the go (at trade shows, etc), you might consider buying a portable charging block which you can use for your phone, the ring light, etc.

✓ Can use at the bench or at trade shows (portable)

✓ Convenient, easy, and requires no knowledge of lighting

#3. Microscope Phone Adapter for Jewelers

In addition to this phone adapter, I also have a nice camera adapter I use to attach my SLR to my microscope. However, when in the store or on the go (especially when communicating with vendors or customers), this is definitely the easiest way to take photos through a microscope.

Everything about it is adjustable: how it fits onto the eyepiece, how it holds your phone, even the orientation of the camera. After you’ve practiced with it a little, you’ll grow to really like it. Here are some photos I’ve taken with this gadget.

For more helpful tips for jewelry stores, check out these articles:

How to Host a Successful Trunk Show

How to Use Pinterest for Your Jewelry Store

3 Reasons Every Jewelry Store Needs A Blog

3 Tips for Selling Jade

How to Use the Mason-Kay Showroom

Copy and Paste IG Story Content

COPY AND PASTE: Instagram Stories (Jade)

COPY AND PASTE: Instagram Stories (Jade)

Here it is! Copy-and-pasteable content for your Instagram Stories to educate your staff and customers on jade and increase engagement on your social media platforms.

A few tips before we get started:

  • Instagram likes when your followers interract with you, so ‘stories’ with polls, quizzes, and questions are a must.
  • It’s often recommended to post 1-10 stories per day, so don’t be afraid to “drag out” the content into multiple stories. For instance, you could start with a “Who wants to learn about jade” poll, then a quiz about a particular fact, and then follow up with 1 – 3 stories of photos or explanations.
  • Pick a certain day of the week to post about jade and drag the facts out over the course of weeks/months. Ideas for days on which to highlight jade: Minerology Monday, Translucent Tuesday, Whiskey Jade Wednesday (lol this really only works if you’re focusing on red jade…but the word “whiskey” definitely gets peoples attention!), Fei Cui Friday (pronounce fay choi), Jade Saturday. You get the gist!
  • Not included in this article: You can reach out to Jewels of the Trade for jade photos to share for “This or That” stories, the moveable rating bar, etc. (DM me on IG and I’ll hook you up with the link.

This is the list of Jade Facts I personally use for my own Instagram, @jewels_of_the_trade. You can copy and paste onto a Story or use the information for interactive content (recommended!)

  1. “Jade” is a term that refers to two different gemstones: Nephrite and Jadeite. Nephrite is the jade of Ancient China, and Jadeite hit the Chinese market in the 1700s and is considered the most valuable of the two (in jewelry) today.
  2. Almost all jadeite on the market comes from Burma. It has been found in other countries such as Japan, Russia, Guatemala, and the US, but not of significant quality or in notable quantity. This makes it very rare.
  3. Jadeite Jade actually comes in many colors! Green, red, yellow, lavender, white, black, and a colorless translucent variety called “Ice Jade.”
  4. Jadeite Jade is the 3rd toughest gemstone on the planet, behind Hematite and Nephrite Jade. Jadeite can be up to 24x tougher (harder to break) than diamond!
  5. Jadeite Jade can be treated with dye or polymer impregnation, which should ALWAYS be disclosed as it significantly compromises the durability/stability and value of the stone. Make sure that you buy natural, untreated jade or ‘A Jade.’
  6. Qing emperor, Qianlong, marched 100,000 soldiers on a campaign to find jadeite jade, or kingfisher jade (fei-ts’ui), in Burma in the 1700s because of it’s exceptional green hue and allure.
  7. Jade has had historical, religious, industrial, and economic significance to many cultures all over the world including the Mayan, New Zealand Maori, Swiss Lake Dwellers, Chinese, and more.
  8. Jade is not actually mined in China. As far as archaeologists can tell, it has always been imported. Jade is, however, cut in China as the cutters have learned how from their predecessors knowledge from thousands of years of cutting experience.
  9. While green is overall the most valuable color of all the jadeite jade colors, the value of jade is strongly determined by it’s translucence. So some ice jade pieces can be more valuable than some green jade pieces, depending on their translucence. 
  10. For some gemstones, treatment can improve the durability and stability of the stone. This is the opposite in the case of jade. Treated jade, when acid-bleached and then impregnated with polymer/resin, is much weaker than natural jade. So instead of having exceptional toughness, treated jade is brittle. If the jade has been dyed, it is less stable as the dye will fade.
  11. The only way to detect polymer/resin impregnation in jadeite is with a spectrometer, which most jewelry stores and appraisers do not have. To determine whether or not your jade has this treatment, it will have to be evaluated by a grading lab (for instance, GIA) or someone like Mason-Kay, a jade wholesaler who offers lab testing services. Your stone can (usually) remain mounted, and this is typically not expensive and doesn’t take very long.
  12. Because jade cabochons are often set with the aid of jewelers epoxy, extensive exposure to water is not recommended for jade jewelry. Therefore, it’s not advised to put jade in the ultrasonic or under the steamer, and it’s not recommended to wear in the shower or — as with all jewelry — in the pool or hot tub.
  13. The Chinese prized jade over all precious metals and would even award top medals in jade instead of gold. To pay homage to this, during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, jade was incorporated into the winning medals.
  14. Jade (especially in finer qualities) is not usually calibrated. In fact, it’s not unusual for it to be irregularly shaped to make the best use of the rough
  15. Jade is not priced per carat.
  16. Jade is the state gemstone of Alaska.

For more content to help your store promote jade in-store, on your website and social media, check out these links:

How to Use the Mason-Kay Showroom

How to Host a Successful Trunk Show

3 Tips for Selling Jade

Natural Vs. Treated Jade

How to Use the Mason-Kay Showroom

How to Use the Mason-Kay Showroom

Hello, jewelry store friends!

The Mason-Kay Showroom is Mason-Kay Jade’s online portal for retailers to use in-store to find inventory and pricing on natural jade jewelry. Here is my advice on how to register, set up your account for customers to view, and use it for memos/orders.

If you already have a login, you can still use the same username and password that you had before. If you’re not sure what your store’s login credentials are, just email [email protected]

How to Register

Go to and click “Not Registered”

Once approved, you’ll receive an email that says you’re good to go and can immediately start viewing the product.

The Showroom is pretty self-explanatory, with a search box for keywords like “estate,” categories, and filtering by price, color, et cetera.

Once you have a login, you can access your store account where the default markup is keystone. This can not be changed, so if you want to feature the Showroom with a different retail markup, you’ll want to add a “Customer,” which you can also designate for your store’s sales floor.

Setting up “customer” accounts for customer / sales floor viewing

Go to Manage Customers and click New Customer to create an account. This is still tethered to your Main Account, but this “Sales Floor” Customer won’t be able to control markup. 

Doing this means you will have more than one login. One for keystone, and the additional logins with your chosen markups.

You can tell which account you’re in by the “Welcome” in the top left-hand corner.

To test it, you can log out and re-login as your Sales Floor Customer Account.

Your Sales Floor Customer Account can view inventory, pricing with your designated markup, and they can build a “Request List” that gets emailed straight to your inbox. 

Managing Your Account and Setting Markup

If you’re logged into your Main Account, you can manage multiple customer accounts and control their markups individually. You can create a number of logins for your individual staff members and individual customers, and even view their request lists within your Showroom.

If you go to Account Info and select  Manage Retail Markup, this is for store owners to set a default markup so that their employees can establish Customer Accounts more easily.

Choosing Product to Memo / Order

In the Main Account of your Showroom, the “Request List” feature is called “Add to Tray.”
When you Add items to your Tray, you’ll have the option to send this list straight to Mason-Kay. This is a handy option when choosing items for an order, a memo, or for your upcoming trunk show. We recommend saving this list for yourself by clicking “Printer Friendly PDF” in the top left corner of your tray.

Once you’ve filled your tray and are ready to place an order, click “Email Tray to Mason-Kay” with your message. You will not receive an order confirmation until after you’ve spoken with a Mason-Kay Staff-member who will follow up to confirm your order. This is mainly because we update the Showroom once a week and therefore can’t guarantee that every single item is available at the time you’re viewing. During our follow-up conversation regarding your Tray, we’ll be able to tell you exactly what is available and discuss shipping, terms, et cetera. 

So there you have it! Mason-Kay Jade is the leading supplier in the US for natural, untreated jadeite jade.Our renowned brand is an asset to the industry and YOUR customers as each piece has been tested and guaranteed natural ‘A Jade.’ We also offer testing and valuation services as well as jadeite jade valuing for appraisers.

Upon registration for your Showroom login, you’ll receive an email with information on how to use the Showroom and of course you can always call the office if you have any questions.

We look forward to doing business with you! Visit to get started!

Indications of “B Jade”

Indications of “B Jade”

Identifying jade (jadeite or nephrite) is not normally a difficult task for the experienced gemologist. Many jewelers and gemologists, however, are still very intimidated by jade when it comes to valuing it or buying off the street. Why is this?

This is actually a very educated and legitimate concern!

While identifying jadeite is not difficult with the right equipment, distinguishing “B Jade” (polymer/resin impregnated jadeite) from “A Jade” (natural, untreated jadeite) can be impossible without spectroscopy, an advanced form of gemological testing that is uncommon in jewelry stores and independent gem labs due to the expense of the machine.

So what if a customer comes into your store with jadeite, but needs to know if it is “A Jade” or “B Jade?” While it can be sent in to Mason-Kay Jade for proper testing, your customer may want to have an idea as to whether or not it is “real jade” before spending the money to have it tested.

Here are some indications of ‘B Jade’ you can look for in your store to determine if you think the piece should be sent in for advanced gemological testing:

#1. How much did it cost?

Natural jadeite is rare and valuable, so if a customer purchased what appears to be bright apple green / fine jade for a price that seems too good to be true…It probably is. 

But of course, the seller may not have valued it appropriately so the price of the item is obviously not a sure indicator. It can, however, help the customer determine if they think it is worth spending on testing. For instance, a customer may say “I only paid $20 for this piece, so it’s not really worth it to me to spend $100 on testing.”

#2. How is it cut and set?

Natural jade usually (but not always!) does not come in calibrated sizes, as the cutter will typically try to make the best use of the rough. Additionally, jadeite isn’t usually cut as a flat bottom cabochon, but may be rounded and even sometimes uneven on the bottom side. It’s also uncommon for jade to be backed or set in a mounting with metal behind the stone. Most natural jade is set in mountings where you can observe the bottom of the stone and see that it’s real. Don’t make a rash assumption though just because of the cut and setting, as there are exceptions to every rule.

#3. Is it a bangle? Does it “ping?”

Natural, unfractured jade bangles, if dangled from a string and struck with a metal rod, will sing out a beautiful resounding “ping.” “B Jade” sounds clunky and abrupt, having no ping due to the internal fracturing.
This is very telling but not a conclusive test for multiple reasons:

-If it’s a natural jade bangle that is fractured on the inside, it will not ping. However, you will probably be able to see these fractures. Nonetheless, the absence of a “ping” doesn’t always mean it isn’t jade.

-If it’s a dyed green quartz bangle, it will ping and sound very similar to natural jade. Therefore, the “ping” isn’t always an indicator.

The best way to know for sure whether your jade is natural is to send it to a reputable gem lab such as GIA or AGL, or a knowledgeable supplier such as Mason-Kay Jade who offers laboratory testing.

For more information, visit:

3 Tips for Selling Jade

3 Tips for Selling Jade

Why Jade?

Selling jade is selling an experience, an enigma, and a story.

It’s no wonder jade is referred to as “the inscrutable gem.” Anyone who sees it loves it, but not everyone is comfortable selling it. This is understandable, as the culture and history associated with jade is not always known but is nonetheless respected.

Jade has been revered all over the world for thousands of years. It is tough enough that ancient peoples used them as tools, and so alluring that one Chinese emperor marched 100,000 men to find the secret jadeite mines of Burma.

It’s appearance is surreal.

It’s texture is addictive.

And it’s story is more intertwined with history than any other gemstone on the planet.

Seeing it is loving it, but understanding it is something else entirely.

This is the conundrum faced by many American sellers.

We know you want your customers to love jade as much as you do, so how can you explain something so inexplicable?

Here are our 3 Tips for Selling Jade.

#1. The jade customer is discerning, so be prepared to explain your knowledge if warranted as an assurance of your skills as a jade salesperson.

Here are some important things to know about jade.

  • There are two different gemstones called jade: Nephrite and Jadeite.

Nephrite is the jade of ancient China, whereas jadeite captivated Chinese nobility more recently in the 1700s.

  • Both jades are the toughest gemstones on the planet, and both are suitable for everyday wear with jadeite being slightly harder to scratch than nephrite.
  • The only jadeite worth buying (and it certainly is worth buying!) is natural and untreated. Jade is one of the most commonly imitated gems in the world, so proper documentation is absolutely essential when making a jade purchase. Most jade on the market is ‘B Jade,’ which has been acid-bleached and filled with polymer. ‘B Jade’ is not valuable, it is brittle, it’s color is not permanent, and the acid can leak onto the wearer’s skin. Not just buying ‘A Jade,’ but having proof that the stone is natural is of the utmost importance.

#2. Consider the lighting.

Many jade customers have their own penlight or will expect you to have one. Not only is it customary for jade shoppers to shine a line through it, but they will probably want to see it under different lighting conditions including sunlight. Jadeite is translucent, therefore it is highly affected by the type of lighting in its environment. One of the things that is most magical about jade is watching it seemingly change as you walk from room to room.

If your customer asks to shine a UV light through it, know that this is an unreliable method of detecting polymer in jade. Surprisingly, not all polymer (‘B Jade’) will fluoresce, and interestingly enough there have been natural jade specimens with some fluorescence. While this is not a reliable test for authenticity, some customers may still want to do it. Be prepared to show them a gem report if they are concerned about the jade being natural.

#3. Don’t overuse the term “imperial.”

How annoying is it when someone refers to an ‘L’ Color diamond as a “canary?”


Just as uninformed customers (and sometimes professionals!) refer to any yellow diamond as canary, so do people refer to any green jade as “imperial.” Only client education will correct this over time.

Imperial Jade is a term that should be reserved only for the highest quality of green, translucent jadeite. Imperial Jade sells in the tens of thousands to millions, so please don’t take this nomenclature lightly. 

Treat the term “imperial” with the same respect you apply to “canary,” “pigeon blood,” and “padparadscha.”

If your store is interested in selling natural jadeite jade, you can read more at

And don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Does Jade Change Color?

Does Jade Change Color?

Many people believe that natural, untreated jadeite can change color over time. Typically attributed to the health or integrity of the wearer, it’s alleged color fading is sometimes even called the “miracle of jade.” Why an irreversible color change (undoubtedly less desirable than it’s original green) would be an attractive quality is beyond me. Thankfully, the truth about natural, untreated jadeite jade is that it will in fact not change color over time.

Natural jade is impervious to perfumes, oils, and most cold acids. Natural jade will not change color from sunlight, and while heat treatment can darken the hue of some red jade, heat from day-to-day exposure to weather and household appliances will not affect the color at all.

While speaking from a position of science and observation, I do not wish to be disrespectful toward those who have such a belief about jade. Jade is held in very high regard by many cultures, including of course that of the Chinese people. Many who have had an experience where their jade faded in color may be surprised to find out that this is not a gemological attribute of jadeite. 

So why does their jade fade?

Where does this rumor come from and why does there seem to be truth to it?

This brings us to treated jades: ‘B Jade,’ ‘C Jade’ and ‘B+C Jade,’ although the answer in any individual case may also be a dyed simulant of jade which we will not cover in this article.

What is ‘B Jade?’

Jadeite jade that has been acid-bleached and impregnated with polymer or resin.

Valued at 5-10% the value of natural jade, ‘B Jade’ is often sold dishonestly and is very difficult to distinguish from natural jade. Standard gemological testing is inconclusive so a proper gem test requires spectroscopy from a reputable lab. Googling ‘at home jade tests’ on the internet will not help you determine if jade is natural vs. impregnated with polymer.

Can the color of B Jade change? Absolutely, as the polymer can come out over time.

What is ‘C Jade?’

Also called ‘dyed jade.’ 

‘C Jade’ is jadeite jade that has been dyed and has been used as a jade treatment for many years. It would be erroneous to refer to ‘C Jade’ as “natural jade” or “real jade.” The dye that gives it its color is considered temporary and can fade over time. ‘C Jade’ has little to no value, but unfortunately is sometimes sold as natural which is why it is always advised to ask for a report from a reputable gem lab such as GIA, AGL, or even a lab testing service guarantee from Mason-Kay Jade.

What is ‘B+C Jade?”’

B+C Jade or BC Jade is a combination of polymer/resin impregnation and dye.

This jade imposter is almost certain to change color or fade over time.

In an effort to drive sales, most treated jade is sold as natural on the market. Many customers have fallen victim to these scams only to be disappointed when their jade turns out to be treated or a non-jade material entirely. This truth reveals itself when the jade either breaks (as jade is the toughest gem on the planet, unlike its simulants and treated counterparts which are quite brittle) or fades/changes body color over time.

My guess is that the powers that sell ‘B Jade’ as natural got ahead of this by marketing “jade” as miraculously color-changing. Perhaps there is some other reason, but it’s best to be critical when shopping for natural jade. Always ask for a report from a reputable lab such as GIA or AGL, or a guarantee from Mason-Kay Jade. Reports from online sellers can be falsified, so don’t hesitate to call a lab and check on a report number before buying. Additionally, only shop with sellers whom you trust.

Natural jade is beautiful, hard to break and long-lasting, as well as rare and valuable. It is absolutely worth it to do your homework before investing in jade, as buying treated jade or some simulants can have little to no value at all.

If you have jade that you would like tested, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mason-Kay about their jade testing services.

Ice Jade: Bridal Jewelry’s Best Kept Secret

Ice Jade: Bridal Jewelry’s Best Kept Secret

Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade
Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade

When discussing diamond-alternatives in engagement rings, the same fabulous stones tend to be mentioned: Sapphire, Ruby, and Alexandrite. Gemologists, jewelers, and salespeople have developed this well-thought recommendation based on the hardness and toughness of these stones. While I love seeing brides flaunt all the colors of corundum and the ever-alluring alexandrite, there is one stone that is often forgotten on this list of durable gems ideal for everyday wear: Jadeite.

Green and Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade
Green and Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade

The vivid, translucent greens of jadeite catch the eye and come with a story as intriguing as the gem’s own luster. But what about the customer coming in and asking for a moonstone engagement ring, as made popular by Etsy and Pinterest in the last few years? Or pearl? Some customers want a softer, more neutral color but with the background and uniqueness of a non-diamond gemstone. Enter Ice Jade.

Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade
Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade

Ice Jade shares all the same properties as (translucent) green jadeite, but without the chemical deposits that typically give jade it’s color thus making Ice Jade the purest type of jade. Ice Jade is characterized as colorless, translucent jadeite, and actually looks very similar to moonstone. Unlike moonstone, however, Ice Jade is one of the toughest gems on Earth — a whopping 200 times tougher (harder to break) than sapphire. Jewelers will much prefer to work with ice jade over soft, delicate stones like moonstone and customers will appreciate Ice Jade for generations.

Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade
Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade

Jadeite is one of the toughest gems, second only to hematite and nephrite (also called jade, but not as desirable in jewelry.)  In fact, one could say that Ice Jade is even tougher than the typical jadeite seen in jewelry stores. Translucency in jade actually makes it tougher! So, by nature, Ice Jade is some of the toughest jade because of it’s translucency. White, opaque jade is still beautiful — but it would not be considered Ice Jade nor would it be as tough due to it’s opaqueness.

Ice Jade, like any jadeite of notable quality, comes from Burma. Jadeite can be found in Guatemala, Japan, and some other places in the world — but the quality simply does not compare to Burmese jadeite.

Here is some information from GIA regarding jadeite’s physical properties:

Hardness: 6.5 – 7

Crystallographic Character: A granular to fibrous crystalline aggregate; compact and massive. Monoclinic system of crystallization. Ice Jade, due to it’s translucency, is “compact.”

Toughness: Rated exceptional, but this really doesn’t communicate just HOW tough it is.

Here is an excerpt from my previous blog post “Nephrite and Jadeite,” regarding toughness:

” There is a system of measuring toughness, and while it seems complicated, understanding the toughness of nephrite and and jadeite is simple.  According to the fracture toughness scale, which measures the work required to separate two surfaces of a crystal along a certain crystallographic plane (GIA. toughness is measured in Ergs. 

The toughness value of corundum measures 600 ergs/cm. 

The toughness of diamond measures between 5,000 and 8,000.

The toughness value of jadeite is 120,000.

And the toughness value of nephrite…drum roll please…

is around 225,000 ergs/cm.”

Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade
Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade

Ice Jade is hard, tough, and very alluring. It makes a great alternative to moonstone, and is a fantastic choice for an engagement ring as it will hold up well to everyday wear.

The pictures simply don’t do it justice! It’s definitely worth seeing in person. I first saw Ice Jade when I met the folks at Mason-Kay Jade. There are many opportunities for stores to get their hands on this material, by visiting Mason-Kay at trade shows, hosting trunk shows at their store, and of course ordering natural, untreated jadeite from Mason-Kay! Have questions about this gem like I did? Just call them up and ask questions! The crew at Mason-Kay is SO knowledgeable, and you can always talk to an owner. Get your hands on some Ice Jade and let me know what you think!

Nephrite and Jadeite

Nephrite and Jadeite

Jadeite Ring by Mason-Kay
Jadeite Ring by Mason-Kay

Do you remember the first time you saw your favorite gemstone? Or when you fell in love with it? Jade is actually important to me because it is my husband’s favorite gem. He fell head over heels for jade in Tucson because of it’s allure and his love of Chinese history, and ever since he has inspired me to get my hands on it as much as I can. While it’s a stone I never disliked, I didn’t have any emotional connection to it until I saw how much he loved it. Since opening my eyes to this beauty, I’ve seen exquisite pieces that I would have never looked for before.

Jadeite Ring by Mason-Kay
Jadeite Ring by Mason-Kay


It’s no wonder so much confusion surrounds the word, as this stone’s mystery has captivated people from almost every continent for thousands of years. The semantics of jade are tricky, as the term can refer to either or both jadeite and nephrite, two distinctly different minerals with different properties. Throw in all of the misnomers to trick people into buying jade imitations, add in the misleading names for treated jade, and you’ve got yourself a lot of misinformed consumers and countless misconceptions about the characteristics of “jade.”

What makes jade so interesting is of course the allure of it’s color and texture, it’s rich history, and it’s significance to a multitude of cultures. History tells us that people have fought and died for both nephrite jade and jadeite jade, some ancient peoples and some more recent than you might like to believe. The Imperial Seal, carved of nephrite jade, determined imperial power and was invaluable to the Chinese people for thousands of years. Nephrite is tougher than steel, and was long believed to have medicinal qualities. Who wouldn’t be fascinated with this geologically unique and historically impactful gemstone?

Moving forward in this article, I will not use the word “jade” unless referring to both nephrite and jadeite at the same time. If I’m talking about nephrite jade, I will say nephrite. If I’m talking about jadeite jade, I will say jadeite.

This article will answer a few common and some not so common questions about jade: How are jadeite and nephrite different? What is “Imperial Jade?” Is there such a thing as cat’s-eye jade? and more. Keep in mind moving forward that the “jade” of Chinese antiquity and religion is in fact nephrite. Nephrite is more plentiful and not as fine as fine jadeite. They do look different, because they are different.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

In the West, we think of nephrite and jadeite always as green. I’ve heard the term “lavender jade” passed around in jewelry stores, but usually when someone asked for jade they meant, without saying, green nephrite or green jadeite. Nephrite and jadeite are both naturally white and their colors come from the presence of other minerals in the stones.

Colors of Nephrite: translucent to opaque. pure white, shades of gray, yellow, red-brown, blue-green, green, green-black, black

Colors of Jadeite: translucent to opaque. pure white. shades of gray, yellow, red-brown and other reds, lavender, blues and purples, blue-green, green, and green-black

Pink and blue are also rare colors that might show up in nephrite and jadeite.

Historically speaking, nephrite jade in China was most valued in white. It is said that porcelain was actually invented by the Chinese to mimic jade, as they may have been searching for an alternative material that would be easier to obtain and work with. While nephrite and jadeite both come in a variety of colors and there are plenty of other ways to gemologically identify them, it’s believed they can be distinguished  by “feel.” I recently read an enthralling book called “Jade: Stone of Heaven” written by Richard Gump in 1962. This author, Gump, was an established authority on jade and I have stumbled upon multiple sources that claim he was able to identify jade by feel after losing his eyesight in later years. 

Chinese nephrite from the Neolithic period featured at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City MO
Chinese nephrite from the Neolithic period featured at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City MO

As Old as the Hills.

Nephrite has been important to China for thousands of years. No other gemstone has ever played such an important role in religion, and especially not for so long. The Chinese do not call it “jade” or “nephrite,” they call it  玉, a term which has existed for about 5,000 years and generally means a “precious stone of great beauty.”  

Archaeologists have found nephrite artifacts from China dating back to the Neolithic period, which ended around 2000 BC. I was particularly delighted to find out that a couple of ancient nephrite pieces are actually in a museum in Kansas City. The bird pictured here is believed to have been carved in the 2nd or 3rd millenium BC. 

On the other side of the world, history tells us about the cultural significance of the “other” jade.  Pre-Columbian civilizations in Mexico, Central and South America used jadeite for medicinal purposes, funerary practices, religious objects, dishes, weapons, tools, jewelry, the list goes on! In fact, Pre-Columbian people believed about jadeite the same thing that the Chinese believed about nephrite: that it was the key to immortality.

Much later, the Maoris of New Zealand used nephrite in weapons, tools, and jewelry, valuing nephrite (or as they called it, pounamu, meaning “greenstone”) above all other stones. 

Before we even knew what it was, civilizations around the world knew and loved the stones we call “jade.”  Richard Gump said it best in his book, Jade: Stone of Heaven: “The Central Asians placed a huge slab of jade before the tomb of Tamerlane to make it inviolate. The pre-Columbians made sacrificial knives from it. Aladdin expressed wonder at the fabulous trees of jade in the underground cavern.  The Russians carved a whole sarcophagus, for Czar Alexander III, of jade. In both New Zealand and New Caledonia a jade mere or war club was the chief’s symbol of authority. Fathers in the Loyalty Islands once bartered their daughters for jade. China built a civilization around the stone.”

The Dynasty Gear Ring by @austy_lee The Dynasty Gear Ring from The Jade Dynasty Collection--- 18K Yellow gold with Burmese Green Jades, Fancy Green and Yellow diamonds, Tsavorites and Champagne diamonds.
The Dynasty Gear Ring by @austy_lee The Dynasty Gear Ring from The Jade Dynasty Collection— 18K Yellow gold with Burmese Green Jades, Fancy Green and Yellow diamonds, Tsavorites and Champagne diamonds.

Tough Luck.

Most sources group Nephrite and Jadeite together to say that the “toughness of jade” is “exceptional.”

Well first of all, they are different gemstones and have different toughnesses. Secondly, “exceptional” to the layman doesn’t begin to explain the durabilty of either stone. While their toughness rating may be different, they are both indeed exceptionally resistant to breaking. Keep in mind that hardness and toughness are different: hardness is resistance to scratching.

There is a system of measuring toughness, and while it seems complicated, understanding the toughness of nephrite and and jadeite is simple.  According to the fracture toughness scale, which measures the work required to separate two surfaces of a crystal along a certain crystallographic plane (GIA. ) toughness is measured in Ergs. 

The toughness value of corundum measures 600 ergs/cm. 

The toughness of diamond measures between 5,000 and 8,000.

The toughness value of jadeite is 120,000.

And the toughness value of nephrite…drum roll please…

is around 225,000 ergs/cm.

So diamond’s toughness is rated “good,” and nephrite is still 28 – 45 times tougher than a diamond.  Don’t be confused though, diamond is still one of the hardness natural substances on Earth. Remember, hardness is resistance to scratching.

Diamond’s hardness is a 10 on the Mohs Scale, whereas nephrite is a 6 – 6 1/2, and jadeite is a 6 1/2 to 7.

Too much to remember?

Jadeite is harder than nephrite. Nephrite is tougher than jadeite. They’re both tougher than diamond, but neither one is as hard.

If you’re wondering about jade for daily wear, I say wear it but be careful. It’s important to mention that “Usually, a razor blade will not scratch nephrite.” Handbook of Gem Identification, Liddicoat.

Jadeite Necklace by Mason-Kay
Jadeite Necklace by Mason-Kay

In Your Element.

I recognize that there is confusion, even among professionals, regarding the chemistry of jadeite and nephrite. So here’s the skinny:

Jadeite and Nephrite are separate species.  They have different properties and a different appearance. 

They are both crystalline.  They are both aggregates, meaning they are made up of a number of individual crystalsWhen my friends tell me that all gemstones are rocks, I correct them. Rocks are aggregate. Lapis Lazuli is a good example of an aggregate, as it is usually composed of calcite, sodalite, and pyrite. 

 Jadeite is a silicate of sodium and aluminum. It’s related to spodumene, diopside, and estatite. Nephrite is a hydrous silicate of calcium and magnesium.   Jadeite is a member of the pyroxene group of minerals. Nephrite is a member of the tremolite-actinolte series of the amphibole group, the calcic amphibole subgroup. Jadeite chemical formula is NaAl(SiO3)2 Nephrite chemical formula is CaMg5(OH)2(Si4O11)2

Pyroxene? Amphibole? What?

Amphibole is the name of a supergroup of minerals. Pyroxene is the name of another supergroup of minerals. This might help you make sense of the term: garnet and tourmaline are both supergroups. Like other mineral groups and supergroups, there can be wide variations in chemical composition meaning that not all amphibole minerals have the same properties or appearances. Interestingly enough, the amphibole group is actually pretty similar to the pyroxene group. Completely unrelated and off topic: If you’re interested in these mineral groups, research one of the most famous amphiboles: Asbestos.

Nephrite is not technically it’s own “mineralogical variety,” it’s a variety of actinolite or tremolite.  Nephrite varies depending on how much of it is tremolite and actinolite and what it’s mineral impurities are.

It’s actually pretty complicated stuff, just check out what GIA has to say about it: “Nephrite is mainly composed of tremolite, Ca2Mg5[Si4O11]2(OH)2, and a variable amount of actinolite, Ca2 (Mg, Fe)5[Si4O11]2(OH)2. When the Mg2+/(Mg2+ + Fe2+) ratio is 0.91 or higher, the main mineral is tremolite; when the ratio is less than 0.91, it is actinolite (Bragg and Claringbull, 1965; Wang et al., 1982; Leake et al., 1997). ” GIA, 

What is “cat’s eye jade” and is it really jade?

I’ve seen this on the Internet and occasionally at shows. A beautiful, bright green chatoyant gem calling itself “cat’s eye jade.” Is it nephrite? Is it jadeite? Well…Technically it’s neither, but it is definitely closest to nephrite. For the record, I have also seen this vibrant stone marketed as “cat’s eye nephrite” and while that’s not far off, it’s not totally accurate. Why does it matter whether it’s nephrite or not? Because this chatoyant gem posing as jade is actually not nearly as tough and should be handled with much more care. Would I still buy one? In a heartbeat.

 Here’s the research:

Handbook of Gem Identification, Liddicoat: “Sometimes the felted structure of nephrite grades into zones of actinolite with a parallel orientation of crystals. This may give an excellent chatoyant effect in a cabochon, but it has the fragility of actinolite instead of the toughness that the matted structures gives to nephrite. This material is properly called actinolite cat’s-eye.”

The Jade Enigma, Jill M. Hobbs: “A chatoyant material known as “cats-eye nephrite” surfaces occasionally in the jewelry trade. It belongs to the tremolite-actinolite series of amphiboles, or which nephrite is a variety. The chatoyancy is due “to the fibrous structure and to the preferred orientation of tremolite fibers.” [Tan et al., 1978]. Therefore, it has been suggested by some (see Anderson, 1980) that the material should be called “cat’s-eye tremolite.” Yet, the matieral is more apt to be actinolite than tremolite.” … “…either tremolite of actinolite cat’s-eye is more appropriate than “cat’s-eye nephrite,” because the chatoyancy is due to the reflection of light off parallel fibers, and by definition nephrite consists of randomly oriented, interlocking fibers.”

Why are nephrite and jadeite both called jade?

Well they look similar, for one. The technology for identifying minerals is newer than both of them.

Burma (which had known about jadeite for a while but interestingly did not choose it over nephrite for religious or ritual purposes. They only used nephrite.) began selling jadeite to China in 1784. That means that prior to 1784, the only “jade” to the Chinese was nephrite. In fact, the Chinese recognized that this “Burmese jade” wasn’t the same as Chinese jade, and were careful to distinguish between the two minerals by using different terminology. Nephrite was called   and the Burmese jadeite was called fei-ts’ui  meaning “kingfisher jade,” which was a term that had previously been used to denote a very specific shade of green nephrite from Khotan. Chinese consumers did not accept jadeite for another hundred years, as even though no scientific distinction was yet made, it was clear to the Chinese that the appearance and “feel” made the “Burmese jade” different from the nephrite to which they were accustomed.

The scientific distinction was not made until years later, when Professor A. Damour discovered and documented the difference between the two jades and coined the term “jadeite” in 1863.

Jadeite Carving from Mason-Kay
Jadeite Carving from Mason-Kay

Other Jade Terms

These are by no means all of them or even close, but here are some common jade terms you might hear in a jewelry store and what they really mean.

Imperial Jade

Imperial Jade is a trade term, not a geological or gemological term. There isn’t an exact science dictating the specific chemical makeup of “imperial jade” over other jade. As far as I know, the FTC does not have restrictions on what can and can’t be called “imperial jade”–so if your shopping for it, make sure that the salesperson knows what they’re talking about. “Imperial Jade” is a term that should only be used for the exceptionally fine quality jadeite: almost transparent with a vibrant emerald green color, according to GIA.

Can jade be treated? Oh yeah. Jadeite has been treated with dye since at least the mid 1900’s. Here are some terms (that your salesperson should disclose) to indicate the gem has been treated:

 B Jade

Unlike ‘A’ Jade which is natural and untreated, ‘B’ Jade is jadeite that has been bleached and impregnated with polymer.

C Jade

C Jade has been bleached, dyed, and impregnated with polymer.

D Jade

Pretty old school. D Jade has been dyed, but it hasn’t been impregnated with polymer.

Jadeite rings, necklace, and pi by Mason-Kay
Jadeite rings, necklace, and pi by Mason-Kay

Conclusion and References

I hope this has helped answer some of your questions about jade, and more importantly I hope it has inspired you to dig deeper into your gemological research. Whether you work in the industry or you simply want to be an educated consumer, there are always exciting things to learn about gemstones.

The Jade Enigma by Jill M. Hobbs, GIA 

Jade: Stone of Heaven by Richard Gump

Handbook of Gem Identification by Richard T. Liddicoat, Jr

Materials from the GIA Colored Stones course