Jade is a gemstone that for reasons that seem obvious has a won the devotion of fans. Its beauty and the incredible works of art it has inspired, are well legendary. Artists in China, where it is most prized have been creating masterpieces for millennia.
Two gem materials can bear the name jade: nephrite and jadeite. (On the Sundara Joon site, we simply refer to nephrite as jade to avoid confusion and we callout jadeite and also label it jade for people unaware of the nuances.) Chinese artisans made incredible jewelry and artwork from a stone they called yu. In the mid 18th century, fei-ts'ui, an intense green-colored stone, entered China from Myanmar. Both materials soon became by the same name in the West, jade, due to their similar appearance. In 1863, the mineralogist Alexis Damour distinguished jade as two distinct minerals. In effect, confirm the distinction the Chinese made originally. What the Chinese called yu, scientists identified as nephrite.Fei-ts'ui was identified as, you guessed it, jadeite.
Courtesy of Mason-Kay Fine Jade Jewelry
Jadeite vs Nephrite
Like twins, they are incredibly similar, but if you know where to look, you can find the differences. They share similar coloring and the tough, microcrystalline structure that makes them wonderful materials for carving. Nephrite is made of calcium and magnesium while jadeite is made from aluminum and sodium. Jadeite is the rarer of the two, has the prized imperial green color and a translucency which sets it apart. For those reasons, it is also the more expensive. Colors can range from a creamy white (unfortunately called “mutton fat” to dark green). The most popular jadeite color is the imperial green, but that is not its only color. It can range from lavender, to red, to black.
Jade and Culture
If you ever find yourself in Hong Kong, check out their jade market. There are hundreds of jewelers there and it is an amazing experience to see the stalls and check out the sellers. If you are not used to bargaining, be prepared, these folks are experts. Other cities with jade markets include Mandalay and Taipei.
Jade symbolizes gentleness, serenity, harmony, and balance in feng shui. Jade also has many meanings, including love, nurturing, strength, luck, and good health. Those lucky to have their birthdays either in March or August share jade as a birthstone.
All those colors of jade mean something to. In religious ceremonies green jade does double duty as it represents heaven and the East. Yellow jade represents the Earth, black jade represents North, white jade represents the West, while red jade represents the South.
Care and Cleaning
Jade jewelry requires no special care so mechanical cleaning such as steaming or ultrasonic can be used. A more manual alternative is a soft brush with warm soapy water.
 Arem, J. Nephrite Jade Value, Price, and Jewelry Information. IGS website. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/nephrite-jewelry-and-gemstone-information/