What Is Nephrite Jade? 10 Amazing Facts You Should Know!
What Is Nephrite Jade? 10 Amazing Facts You Should Know!

What is nephrite jade? Nephrite jade is a green gemstone that humans have prized for centuries. Many ancient cultures believed that jade had supernatural powers, and it was often used in religious ceremonies. People also thought it was a stone that could bring energy and fortune. Nephrite is one of the two variations (the other one is jadeite) of jade rocks. It is often used in jewelry and other decorative items. 

Nephrite has always been a beautiful accessory, whether it's for ancient religious objects or modern-day jewelry pieces. Let's dig into some enthralling facts about this magnificent gemstone.

Jade and Its Fascinating History

Jade gemstone

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What is jade? This question has puzzled people for centuries. Is it a type of gemstone? A mineral? The name "jade" can refer to either of two silicate minerals: nephrite or jadeite. Both are very rare and quite expensive. 

The most valuable variety is an emerald-green translucent jadeite, commonly known as an imperial jade. Different jade types have been used for several thousand years in many cultures, especially in China, for jewelry and other decorative objects.

Did you know that the word "jade" comes from the Spanish phrase "piedra de ijada”, which means "stone of the loins"? This is because they saw Central American natives holding jade pieces to the sides of their bodies, believing in the stone's healing benefits. The Aztecs and Mayans were particularly fond of jade, using it for all sorts of things, including jewelry, tools and ornaments.

What is Nephrite Jade: a Symbol of Purity in the Chinese Culture

What Is Nephrite Jade: Chinese traditional nephrite jewelry
Image by Alexxx Shmel via Shutterstock

But why was this mineral so prized by these cultures? Part of the answer has to do with its physical properties. Jade is highly durable, making it perfect for use in harsh environments. It's also relatively soft, meaning it can be carved and shaped easily. And, perhaps most importantly, jade is known for its beautiful green color, a popular choice for jewelry and decorative items.

However, the cultural significance of jade goes beyond its physical properties. For example, in Chinese culture, jade is seen as a symbol of purity and righteousness. People also believed in its protective qualities, so they often used it in amulets and talismans. In fact, the Chinese name for jade, 玉 (yù), means "precious stone" and "gem”. The Chinese also used it for grave furnishings for royal family members.

Jade has also been prized by other cultures throughout history, with some using it for making the most delicate objects. In modern times, jade is still valuable for making jewelry, especially in East Asia.

The Story of Nephrite Jade 

Hand crafter jade stone carving

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As a gemstone, jade has a rich history spanning over 7,000 years. It has been exclusively used in Chinese and Latin American cultures. 

Before discovering jadeite jades around 1863, people used the term "jade" to refer to only nephrite jades. Nephrite is a form of the tremolite-actinolite mineral. Most of its variations are green because of a high iron concentration. 

Nephrite jade means "kidney stone,", which comes from the Greek word "lapis nephriticus." It was thought to be a cure for kidney stones and other spleen and liver ailments. 

Nephrite is typically greenish mottled with white and black specks, but can also be found in yellow, black, white, brown and gray shades. The green color could be any shade from light to dark, and the texture ranges from translucent to opaque.

What Is Nephrite Jade: Jade stone carving
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It has a strong but not exceptionally bright luster, which gives it a slightly dull appearance. This jade is usually untreated but can be bleached, dyed or treated with polymer to improve its appearance.

Nephrite is typically cut into cabochons, beads or other simple shapes. It's hard to find its use in faceted stones, as the luster is not as strong as jadeite. This jade is a go-to choice for carvings, so you will see many nephrite ornaments and sculptures with intricate details. 

The ancient Greeks and Romans esteemed jade for its beauty and rarity. The Chinese believed it could ward off evil and that it was the harbinger of good luck. They kept it in the home to bring harmony, health and prosperity. Countless artisans have worked with jade over the years, carving a wide variety of beautiful and intricately detailed artworks.

The Story of Jadeite Jade

Jadeite and diamond parure

Image by Sothebys

Jadeite has quickly become an object of veneration, especially among the Chinese people, after its discovery in 1863. Jade has always had spiritual significance in Chinese culture. Jadeite has quickly become the new favorite because of its beautiful colors, vivid clarity and smooth texture. Also, its quality is better than nephrite. 

Jadeite is the most valuable jade type, worth more than gold! It is prized for its beautiful green color, varying from light to dark green. In fact, the most valuable jade- the imperial jade- is vibrant emerald-green jadeite. There are other colors, including lavender, white, brown, orange and a few more. 

This precious stone comes from only one country: Myanmar. It is mined in the Kachin State, which is the northernmost state of Myanmar.

What Is Nephrite Jade: Pair of jadeite and diamond pendent earrings
Image by Sothebys

The jadeite deposits in this area are some of the richest and most extensive globally! Small deposits have been found in a few other countries, but they have yet to become a commercial source. 

Jadeite is prized for its beautiful color and smooth texture, as well as its shiny luster. If you're looking for something truly unique and beautiful, you should consider adding this gemstone to your collection.

This gemstone is often used in jewelry, and is considered a symbol of good luck and fortune. It is a very popular gemstone, especially in Asia, and is sure to increase in popularity in the years to come.

Nephrite vs. Jadeite: How are they Different?

Sevillana green jade cuff

Image via Tiffany

If you're like most people, you probably think that all types of jade are the same. Well, not exactly. There is a big difference between nephrite and jadeite jades, and if you want to make sure that you're getting the real thing, it's important to know what to look for. Let's discuss the differences between these two types of jade! 

Mineral formation: Each jade type is formed from a different mineral. Nephrite comes from the tremolite-actinolite mineral, while jadeite is the result of pyroxene mineral.

Hardness: Nephrite has a hardness of around 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, whereas jadeite's hardness is 6.5 to 7. Both types are rigid and don't break or chip easily. Nephrite is relatively easier to cut and shape. It is often used in carvings, jewelry and other decorative objects. And both types need some extra care for protection against scratches. 

Feel and texture: Nephrite has a greasy feel and a dull luster. Jadeite is more translucent, and you can see through it upon holding it up to the light. It also has a smooth texture, but some lower-category variations can be slightly coarse. 

Color: Both nephrite and jadeite jades are available in various shades of green. However, only jadeite has the most valuable emerald-green variation. Both types come in multiple colors, including yellow, white, red, brown, black and more. 

Availability: Nephrite is relatively common and found in abundance worldwide, making it a more affordable option than other types of jade. On the other hand, jadeite jade is a newer type of jade that was first discovered in Burma in the late 1800s. It has a much higher value than nephrite jade because of its rarity.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you're shopping for jade, and you'll be able to avoid getting ripped off!

Beautiful Variations: the Different Types of Nephrite

There are many different types of nephrite jade, and each one has its own unique properties. Let's discuss the most common types and what makes them so unique. 

Mutton Fat Jade

What Is Nephrite Jade: Mutton fat jade bangle
Image by Setomastudio via Etsy

This nephrite type is the most coveted and expensive variety. It gets its name from its distinctive translucent white to buttery yellow color due to the high levels of iron oxide in the stone. It is found in only a few places globally, and it is highly sought after by collectors and jewelry makers.

The most expensive of this type is Hetian jade, produced only in southwestern Xinjiang's oasis town Hotan. 

Siberian Jade (or Russian Jade)

Siberian nephrite jade necklace

Image by Jadepeony via Etsy

With a magnificent dark spinach-green shade, Siberian jade is the most valuable variety of green nephrite. Since jadeite jade is quite rare and its imperial version is even harder to find, the Siberian jade is widely used as an alternative. 

This jade is so-called because of its origin in Russia's Lake Baikal region. It has a beautiful spinach-green color and excellent transparency, which are the main reasons behind its high popularity. 

Russian jade was extensively used in China from the late 19th to the early 20th century. The Chinese used it to make magnificent decorative items. 

 

Black Jade

Cuff in sterling silver with black jade

Image via Tiffany

Black Jade is a type of nephrite jade found in only a few places in the world. It has a deep, rich black color, and is prized for its rarity and beauty. Its dark shade comes from a high concentration of iron ore. However, it will still show a greenish hue under bright light because it's a part of the nephrite jade family.

Chicken Bone Jade

A chicken bone jade boy and brocade ball carving

Image by via Christies

Another valuable and comparatively rare variation of nephrite jade. The stone is opaque, and its color ranges from creamy white to light brown with black specks.

Chrysomelanite Jade

This nephrite jade has a deep green color with black dots or lines across the surface. 

Wyoming Jade

Wyoming green jade earrings sterling silver

Image by Jewelryandstoneart via Etsy

This type of nephrite jade is found in the United States, and it has a beautiful green color. Wyoming jade is one of the finest nephrite variations in the world. 

The Many Uses of Nephrite Jade: a Stone for all Occasions 

Nephrite jade is a versatile stone that has been used for centuries in various ways. It is thought to have many healing properties and is often used in jewelry and other decorative items. Let's explore some uses of this gemstone. 

Jewelry

Nephrite jade has been used as an ornamental stone for centuries. It has become popular for making jewelry in modern times because it is durable, easy to work with, and more affordable than diamonds and a bunch of other gemstones.

You will find nephrite jade in pendants, bracelets, anklets and other jewelry types. It's primarily used in bead forms, but detailed nephrite jade carvings are not uncommon.  

Décor Items

A carved nephrite bowl

Image via Christies

The use of nephrite in decorative items such as bowls, vases and other home decorating pieces is common. The stone brings good luck and prosperity into the house, so many people incorporate it into their décor. This stone can also be used in Feng Shui applications to help create a more harmonious environment.

Artwork

A carved nephrite guanyin

Image via Christies

The nephrite gemstone has been used to make beautiful artwork for centuries. The Chinese believed that it had healing properties. So they made small statues from this stone to place in their homes or gardens to meditate on.

The jade can be carved into various shapes and forms, including animals, people or abstract designs. 

Healing Medium

Brazilian nephrite jade

Image by Casadelcielous via Etsy

Nephrite has been traditionally used as a healing tool. It is believed that when worn over an area of pain or inflammation, it can help reduce swelling and ease discomfort.

Some people believe that this jade can protect against negative energy and keep the wearer feeling positive and happy. Other therapeutic properties include promoting blood circulation, restoring the acid balance, and improving the immune system. 

Maori nephrite pendant

Image via Cristies

Maori people highly esteem the green nephrite and consider it a source of mystical energy. They use these stones as tokens of friendship and wear them as amulets. They also believe in the stone's positive effects on mental health.

Nephrite has been famous as the stone of dreams. Shamans and faith healers often preach its ability to induce lucid dreams. It also lifts up your spiritual state in dreams. It's used as a birthstone for August and March.

What's the Cost of Nephrite Jade?

Due to nephrite's availability, it's less costly than jadeite. However, the stone is still valuable depending on the quality, color and place of origin. The average price of common nephrite ranges between $100 and $1,000 for each pound. Jewelry pieces are available from $30 to $100 and more. 

The rarest nephrite is mutton fat jade, so it's no wonder that it’s the most valuable of this jade type. One pound of mutton fat could be $68,000 or even more. 

Another rare and in-demand nephrite is the Siberian jade. The highest quality of this variation was priced at $22,727 in 2015. The cost of slightly lower quality variations was around $900.

Natural vs. Treated: How to Care for Nephrite Jade Jewelry

Jade overlay ring in 14k gold

Image via Macys

Nephrite jade is a beautiful, natural gemstone found in multiple colors. It is prized for its unique coloration and texture, and is often used in jewelry. If you're the lucky owner of some beautiful nephrite jade jewelry, you'll want to take care of it properly. After all, you don't want that lovely greenstone to turn black and ugly! 

The good news is that caring for nephrite is pretty straightforward, but there are a few things you need to know, depending on whether your jade is natural or treated. Let's go over the basics of how to care for nephrite jade so your jewelry stays looking beautiful for years to come!

Chemicals and External Elements

Green jade and zircon drop earrings in sterling silver

Image via Macys

Natural nephrite does not need any special attention. Take it to the beach, swimming pool or sauna, and it will not show any change of color or brightness. But treated nephrite needs to be protected from all kinds of exposure. You should not wear it when going to the swimming pool, steam room or hot bath. It's even vulnerable to sunlight exposure.

Scratches

Whether natural or treated, nephrite is exceptionally scratch-resistant, but it's still a good idea to take some precautions. Avoid wearing your jade jewelry when doing any kind of manual labor, and make sure to store it in a safe place where it won't get scratched.

Sterling silver nephrite jade bangle

Image via Macys

Natural nephrite can survive minor bumps and impacts, but it's a different story for a chemically treated jade. Chemical bleaching or dying changes the structural stability of the stone, making it fragile and breakable.

Store nephrite separately from other jewelry pieces. Keep it in a fabric-lined box or wrap it up with a soft cloth to avoid scratches.

Stains

Jade is a porous stone, so it absorbs any kind of liquid. If you've spilled something on your nephrite jewelry, it's crucial to act fast, especially if the drink is colorful. The longer the stain sits on the surface of your jade, the harder it will be to remove!

If the color gets absorbed, it won't get off unless it’s specially cleaned by an expert. But hard stains will be permanent on treated nephrite. It's not possible to remove the stain without damaging the original dye. 

How to Clean

Nephrite jade concentric circles pendant necklace in sterling silver

Image via Macys

Whether natural or treated, nephrite does not require special cleaning solutions, except for a mix of warm water and mild dish soap. Soak the jewelry piece in the solution for a couple of minutes. 

Then, use a soft sponge to clean up anything like makeup or oil. You may want to use a soft brush to remove dirt from hard-to-reach areas like the backside of rings or in crevices where dust accumulates over time.

After rubbing the dirt off, rinse the piece with clean water. Dry off the jewelry piece with a paper towel. 

The Final Word

Nephrite jade is a beautiful and powerful stone that has been used for centuries. It can be used as jewelry, carving materials, and energy healing tools. The beauty of this gem can be found in both its natural form and treated variations. It's a beautiful gemstone to make stunning wedding rings. If you are looking to buy this jade, be sure to do your research so that you are not duped by imitations.

FAQS about Nephrite Jade 

Q. Is Jade Nephrite Real Jade?

A. Nephrite is genuine jade. In fact, it was the only jade type available before the discovery of jadeite in 1863. While this is not the most valuable type of jade, it is still a precious gemstone.

Q. What is the Difference Between Jade and Nephrite Jade?

A. Nephrite is a type of jade, so there's inherently no distinction between jade and nephrite jade. But it has some dissimilarities with jadeite. Nephrite's mineral composition, available colors, texture and transparency level are different from jadeite.   

Q. Why is Nephrite Jade So Expensive?

A. Although jadeite is the more valuable jade type, nephrite is still expensive compared to many other gemstones. Nephrite's mutton fat and Siberian jade variations are the priciest. 

Q. Is Nephrite a Precious Stone?

Nephrite is a precious stone. It has not only monetary value,but also spiritual values in many cultures. Some variations of nephrite are more valuable than other types. 

Q. What is Nephrite Jade Good for?

A. Nephrite is suitable for creating jewelry, figurines and various decorative items. In many cultures, people believe that the stone has serious healing power and can bring good fortune. 

Q. How Do I Know If My Jade is Nephrite?

A. Nephrite is less translucent and shiny than the jadeite jade. Its resin-like clarity and slightly rough texture make it quite distinct from the jadeite type. 

Q. What is Mutton Fat Jade?

A. Mutton fat is the most valuable type of nephrite. It ranges from a semi-transparent white to a magnificent buttery yellow color. 

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