Jade has been a longtime symbol of status in China since ancient times. An important material often used in carvings, jewelry, screens, and decorations, jade is held in high regard as valuable and culturally and artistically significant.

Jade comes in two distinct forms: jadeite and nephrite. Both stones are formed by a grouping of interlocking microcrystals. Each piece of jade is one of a kind and has a definite character.

Jade is the stone used in special jewelry pieces, such as the bi-disc pendants that represent the Chinese symbol for eternity. Butterflies symbolize long life, and they are often carved into jade pendants, pins, earrings, etc.

Other symbols important to Chinese culture that are often represented using jade include: the bat, a symbol of happiness; the dragon, which shows power and prosperity; and the peach, which references immortality.

Jade carvers believe the elements of jade make it something beautiful and valuable to wear and enjoy. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, each Olympic medal was embedded with a piece of pure, natural-carved white nephrite jade.

Both jadeite and nephrite are hard stones and both are called jade; however, there are differences in the chemical composition. Jadeite is a silicate compound of sodium and aluminum. Nephrite is a silicate compound of calcium and magnesium.

Most jade traded today is jadeite jade. It is harder and denser than nephrite jade and is more expensive, too. Jadeite comes in many colors of green and does not have visible layers.

By the 14th century, nephrite jade was traded widely. Nephrite is a soft and less dense stone when compared to jadeite. Nephrite has a recognizable glassy luster and does not appear to have any layers.

If you want to be sure you have a piece of authentic jade, look for a dense composition and veins. There should be no layering of the stone if it is really jade, and it will scratch metal and glass.

Jade is dense, and if you toss it into the air and catch it, it should be heavier than other similar stones of the same size. Weight is what you are looking for when it comes to recognizing real jade.

Jade comes in many colors — green, lavender, white, and yellow — and also has many imitators. For instance, aventurine, a type of quartz, is a green stone that is also known as Indian jade or Australian jade. Greenstone is a jade imitator too.

Serpentine is a waxy, green stone that is not as smooth as jade but sometimes is mistaken for it. Chrysoprase imitates jade’s two forms also. Green quartz or prehnite can be mistaken for jade. These various jade lookalike stones are good-looking stones but are not as beautiful or valuable.

Fake jades can be susceptible to chemical bleaching, color dying, and doubling, also known as layering. Some fake jade items are treated to look more translucent and to accept a plastic coating to enhance the object’s look.

Natural, authentic, and untreated jade is usually only treated with a plum juice wash or beeswax polish, as it then will retain its true and natural color.


Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori appears on The Curse of Oak Island and Pawn Stars on History channel. Dr. Lori gives appraisal values at drloriv.com. Her widely popular channel, youtube.com/drloriv, teaches people how to spot and sell vintage objects for top dollar.

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