Nephrite vs Jadeite: Understanding the Differences

Jade is a popular gemstone known since ancient times, but it wasn’t until 1863 that it was discovered that jade actually consists of two distinct minerals: nephrite and jadeite. While these two minerals are similar in appearance, there are several differences between them.

Key Takeaways

  • Jadeite is denser, harder, and rarer than nephrite, making it more expensive.
  • Nephrite is mainly found in China, while jadeite primarily comes from Burma.
  • Jadeite has a wider range of colors, while nephrite is mostly found in cream and green colors.

Nephrite is a more common mineral found on Earth. It comes in various colors, although dark to mid-green and grey-green are the most common. Nephrite scores 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness and has a density of 2.9-3.0 g/cm3. It is an iron silicate containing magnesium and calcium, and it has been highly revered in China for centuries.

Jadeite, on the other hand, is rarer and more expensive than nephrite. It has a hardness of 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale and a density of 3.3-3.38 g/cm3. Jadeite is a silicate of aluminum that also contains sodium. It has a grainy crystal structure and can be found in a wider variety of colors, including red, yellow, orange, black, lavender, and brown. Jadeite is sometimes referred to as Burmese jade due to its abundance in Burma.

The value of jadeite depends on its transparency and the intensity of its color, with more transparent jadeite being more expensive. Opaque jadeite can be quite cheap, while imperial jade, a semi-transparent medium green jadeite, is the most expensive variety.

Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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