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.
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 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.
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. https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/blog/more-than-mohs-scale-gem-durability/) 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 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!