Nephrite & Jadeite, BC Jade & Chinese Jade, Just what are the differences?!

Before we begin comparisons, let’s find out what Jade really is.  Jade is actually two separate gems, Nephrite and Jadeite….. The name Jade had always applied to nephrite that is until the high quality Jadeite was brought into China approximately 200 years ago.  This gemstone symbolizes a connection between the living and the dead as well as social class, wealth and power.

Did you know? Jade is the official gem for the 12th anniversary.

Carved nephrite with natural skin from Lao Feng Xiang Jewelry


Known to be the most prehistoric, cave dwellings have been discovered with rudimentary carved nephrite spear heads to be used as weapons and carving tools.  Nephrite ranges from translucent to opaque and can be light to dark green, gray, black, brown and white, most nephrite is mottled or streaked and the colors are more muted than jadeite.  With Nephrite, terms such as “mutton fat” is used to describe very high quality white nephrite, and is in huge demand worldwide.   Xinjiang is home to China’s most important nephrite deposits.  Nephrite jade has been an important part of China’s jade culture for more than 5,000 years. And nephrite’s history on other continents goes back 4,000 to 5,000 years.

Top quality carved jadeite from Lao Feng Xiang Jewelry


Considered relatively new in the Chinese market, it was in the 1700’s the first jadeite quality jade reached China from Myanmar, displaying incredible color, transparency and texture. Jadeite can be found in colors such as purple, yellow, reddish orange, white, gray black and brown and many shades of green. This jadeite was only reserved for the Emperor and Royalty!  When valuing Jadeite the purchaser will look at color, transparency and texture.  Top-quality jadeite is rare. Vivid, sleek, and translucent, magnificent jadeite commands some of the highest prices among gems in today’s international market.

Did you know, the character YU for jade is one of the oldest in written Chinese dating back to 2950 BC?


Jadeite Cutting Wheel

Huge cutting wheels

BC Jade                                

Is high quality nephrite, and is actively mined in three parts of the province.  Dease Lake, Mount Ogden and Cassiar.

The BC jade market is booming as the demand for “emperor green” color nephrite is highly sought after in the Chinese market.  As deposits for the green nephrite are found only in 3 locations in the world.  China, Siberia and British Columbia.  BC jade can be found in hard rock deposits or in alluvial boulders that have been moved by glaciers over time.  “New mine jade” is jade discovered in hard rock deposits.  “Old mine jade” is boulder jade that has been dragged by glaciers and only the best boulders survive and are of high quality.

Lavender Jadeite from Lao Feng Xiang JewelryLavender Jadeite

Chinese Jadeite                                    

Terms to describe this jade is watery, ice, glass, not terms you would use regarding B.C. jade.

Top quality jadeite is rare and with the rise of the Chinese economy, the demand by those who can afford this precious gemstone outweighs the supply….. In China, jade symbolizes a connection between the living and the dead as well as power, wealth, and social class. Also used to fashion tools, jade is a part of every aspect of people’s lives.  China is the world’s largest market for jade where it is considered a hard asset and a symbol of wealth.

Did you know?  To display their pride in jade culture, the Chinese mounted nephrite jade into the award medals used in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It was the first time that gem materials were used on Olympic medals and it reignited an awareness of, and love for, nephrite jade.

Jade’s Spiritual Side

For thousands of years jade has been cherished for its purity, and endurance.  The wearer believed it could lift them to the highest spiritual aspirations, protect them from harm and disease and also bring to them prosperity, success and good luck.  In modern times, beliefs have not changed.  Asian consumers have never lost their fascination for jade and non-Asian purchasers are drawn to this beautiful gemstone as never before.  Primarily for its rich heritage, rarity, durability and beauty.

Did you know?     The Chinese philosopher Confucius wrote that “jade is like virtue and its brightness represents heaven”.

Jade’s Durability & Care

Jade is comprised of metamorphic rocks, made up of tiny interlocking mineral crystals.  On the MOHS scale, nephrite is given the hardness of 6.0 to 6.5 and jadeite 6.5 to 7.0.  With day-to-day wear, dirt, chemicals, makeup, perspiration and oils from your skin can cause build-up that may cause the surface of the jade to dull.  You can wash your jade periodically with a mild soap and rinse in clean water drying with a cotton towel.  DO NOT put into an ultrasonic!

Chinese are not the only people to view jade as very special.  Historically you will find jade revered by the English, Spanish, the Maori of New Zealand and also Mayan cultures.  With so many people holding jade in such high regard, maybe there is something to the many beliefs that surround it.

18K Jadeite Ring