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"Revealed: Tips To Buy Jadeite ..."

The Points To Remember When buying from Online Stores and Local Retail Shops!

In this article, We will discuss the following:
  • What is Jadeite? Different types of Jadeite you can find in the market.
  • What is Jade (Nephrite)?
  • What are the Jadeite look alike you can find in the market? 
  • How do you grade Jadeite?
  • Tips to buy Jadeite
  • And much much more!

Important information about Jadeite and Nephrite:
CHEMISTRY Jadeite, NaAlSi2O6. Nephrite, Ca2(Mg,Fe)5(Si4O11)2(OH)2
CRYSTALLOGRAPHY Monoclinic, though usually microscopic

REFRACTIVE INDEX Jadeite 1.64 - 1.667. Nephrite, 1.600 - 1.641
HARDNESS Jadeite 6.5 - 7. Nephrite, 6 - 6.5
SPECIFIC GRAVITY Jadeite 3.25 - 3.36. Nephrite, 2.90 - 3.02
ENHANCEMENTS Dying, occasional. Wax impregnation, occasional.

What is Jadeite (翡翠)(硬玉)?

Jadeite is:(found in the internet)

  • A pyroxene mineral consisting of silicate of sodium and aluminum, occurring in the form of light green monoclinic crystals. It is the tougher and more highly prized variety of jade.(Jadeite and nephrite are known to the Chinese as Jade).
  • A hard, translucent variety of jade which is rarer than the other varieties of nephrite and comes in a variety of colors such as orange, pink, yellow, brown, blue, violet, and black.

Jadeite Color
Although famous for its green, pure jade is actually white, with impurities forming green, red, yellow, pink, white, violet, orange, blue-green and brown. Jadeite is usually more vivid in color than Nephrite. Jadeite is the only one of the two that produces the highly prized emerald green Jade called Imperial Jade. Jadeite gets this emerald color from chromium. Other colors are also formed from impurities. Brown indicates the presence of iron and Violet, manganese.

Jadeite colors

Jadeite is found in Burma, California, Guatemala, Russia, and Japan. Only the Jadeite found in Burma is of the gemstone grade; They are cut and carved in many of the Asian countries like Burma, Thailand, and China and then sold. Jadeite from Burma was not introduced into the Chinese market before the late 1800's. Replacement of nephrite by Burmese Jadeite came quickly as the preferred stone, due to the unique colors of the Burmese Jadeite (green, lavender, yellow and orange, and its greater translucent quality). Today Jadeite from Burma suggests fine quality Jadeite.

Different colors of jadeite 

What are the different types of Jadeite you can find in the market?
The Jadeite showing up on market presently can be classified into A jade, B jade ,C jade and B+C jade.
A- jade indicates the natural jadeite without undergoing any artificial treatment, alteration or enhancement. Such kind of natural jadeite does not change with the passage of time. It can be preserved forever and wears well. (Only A jade will appreciate in value)

B- Jade is defined as the natural jadeite having undergone a process of acid treatment, removed the impurities and impregnated with colloidal silica or resin. Normally, this kind of jadeite will turn out yellow gradually in 3-5 years of time and then the surface color will come off due to the ageing of resin or colloid. Meanwhile, the composition of inherent texture of jadeite has been destroyed during the acid treatment which affects immediately its durability.

C-Jade is specified as the natural jadeite having undergone artificial treatment, plus adding the new pigment substance. We may also say that not only its internal texture has been undermined but also its internal color was artificially added in.

B+C Jade- Jade that has been impregnated with colloidal silica or resin as well as dye with pigment susbstance.

Type B jadeite

Type C jadeite

Type B + C jadeite

What is Nephrite (軟玉)? 
Chemistry: Ca2(Mg,Fe)5(OH)2(Si4O11)2 , a variety of actinolite.
Index Of Refraction
: 1.62 (nephrite) 
6.5 - 7 
n/a-massive stone 
Crystal System:
Nephrite Color
Pure Nephrite is white. Nephrite is usually green or creamy white, but can also be beige, yellow, blue or black and often contains veins of color. The presence of iron provides the green in nephrite.

tips to buy JADEITE
Jade has been used by the Chinese for many thousand years.A jade culture was subsequently developed and made great progress in the Chinese history. Amongst others, jade is closely related to Chinese idoms , Chinese characters, Chinese poems,  Chinese religion, daily utensils, relics unearthed from the ancient tombs, the imperial seals of differnt dynasties ... just to name a few.  Even the medals to be used in Beijing 2008 will be made of jade.

Nephrite image
nephrite image

You just have to remember that jade (nephrite) is softer than jadeite, the luster is weaker; and the price is very much cheaper than that of jadeite.  A good quality jadeite bangle may cost you US$10,000 while a good quality nephrite may cost only US$500. That is why as a tourist in the Far East (namely, China, Hong Kong Taiwan, Singapore etc), you may be conned to pay for the price of jadeite when you are given a nephrite. Selling price of jadeite in such stores as a***,e*** and y*** are really cheap! You are your own judge, whether they are able to supply you with good quality jadeite at that price. Most of the time, they are selling you jadeite look-alikes. Good quality jadeite can never be cheap!!! They are in short supply and price appreciates yearly.)

What are the Jadedite look alike you can find in the market?
Nephrite white, dark green 6 2.9-3.1 1.62 black spot
  blackish green       greasy luster
  color even        
Serpentite Jade yellowish green, white 4.5 2.58-2.62 1.52 waxy luster
  apple green, black        
  color even        
Hydro-grossular Green, yellowish green 6.5 3.48 1.73 uneven composite
Aventurine Quartz grassy green 6 ~ 7 2.66 1.55 vitreous luster
Chalcedony fresh green, color even 7 2.6 1.54 vitreous luster
          very fine structure
Agalmatolite light green, yellowish green 2.5 2.8   waxy luster
Saussurite white, dark green, light green 7.5 2.7-3.2 1.56-1.7 unstable 
Amazonite stone greenish blue or bluish green 6 2.56 1.53 not transparent
Chrysoprase apple green even 7 2.66 1.54 color evenly spread
Dyed Quarzite fresh green even 7 2.65 1.55 can detect the dye
Green glass fresh green very even 5.5 2.49-2.7 1.52 bubble
Albite white, transparent 6 2.64 1.53 - 1.59 looks like ice jadeite

Chrysoprase                    Glass                         Emerald                       Nephrite                          Chalcedony

How do you grade Jadeite?
Right now there is no common system to grade Jadeite in the market - like the 4C system used to grade the diamond.  However 4C2T1V model is widely in China and Hong Kong.
  • Color
  • Craftsmanship
  • Clarity
  • Crack
  • Tranparency
  • Texture
  • Volume

Grading process
Step one:  Grade the color in terms of Tone, Hue, Saturation (same as diamond) and Evenness. It is best to view the color under the sunlight. Price will decrease if the jadeite it too blue or too yellow. It will also worth less if the color is very uneven.

Step two: Grade the transparency and texture

Jadeite transparency is characterized with one of the following terms:

  • Transparent
  • semitransparent
  • Translucent
  • semitransluscent
  • Opaque

Transparent jadeite is more valuable than opaque jadeite. And the price can differ many hundred times.The left one is considered opaque as you can't see the lines below.  The one in the middle is considered translucent, as you can see the lines below vaguely. And the right one is considered tranparent as you can see the two lines below vividly; hence it is highly valued.  

Texture refers to the internal characteristics of the jadeite under magnification. Jadeite is formed by a cluster of microsopic crystals.  The chemical bonding and the atomic structure within the jadeite will affect its luster and transparency.  The smaller the size of the crystals the more valuable the jadeite is.

Step three:  Grade the Craftsmanship in terms of Shape, Cut, proportion, thickness, symmetry, and the standard of polishing.
This is very similar to grade the cut of diamond.

Step four:  Grade the volume of the completed piece and adjust the valuation.
The valuation is based on the type of finished products, and the wastage for that product. The higher the wastage; the more expensive is the finished product.  And without carving will be more valuable than the one with carving. (They carve away the problem spots or cracks in the jadeite.) Everything being equal, bangle will be more expensive than pendant, cabochon and display items (valuation is in that order).

Step five:  Grade the crack and clarity to minus the value.

Depending on the size of the crack whether can be spotted by the naked eyes.

Grade No  Minor Difficult Detectable Easily Obvious
Crack Crack to see crack Crack detectable Crack Crack
Value 100% -5% -10% -20% -40% -60%

Clarity refers to the types of inclusions found in the jadeite. Presence of different types of Mineral will make certain part of the jadeite black, brown or white. And the color can be in the form of spots, silk-like, or vein-like.  The shape, size and location of the inclusions will affect the valuation of the jadeite, more so for high quality jadeite.

Now that you have some ideas on how jadeite is valued in the market, let me tell you the tips to buy jadeite.

Tips to buy Jadeite:
Step one:  To determine whether it is a jadeite.
Step two:  Whether the jadeite has undergone any enhancement treatment.

To determine whether it is a jadeite, you may do the following:
  1. Observation the luster and color of the gemstone with naked eyes.
  2. Observation it with a 10X loupe
  3. Carry out test with your tools

Step one : check the luster and color

Ms Barbara Smigel clearly shows in her free geomology course that  gemstone luster is characterized with one of the following terms:

[Pyrite (in shist): metallic; diamond: adamantine (like diamond); zircon: subadamantine; fire agate: vitreous (like glass)]
[Fluorite: subvitreous; nephrite jade: greasy; amber: resinous]
[Pearl: pearly; tiger'seye: silky; granite: dull]
Only Jadeite has vitreous luster; Nephrite is greasy; and most of the look-alikes are either greasy or waxy.

In general, more than one color can be found in a piece of jadeite. The green  is never evenly displayed in the jadeite. On a piece of white jadeite, the green color may be in a form of dots, veins-like, strips and spots with different tones and intensity. If the greenness is unnatural, if may be dyed.

Step Two: Use the loupe

The table below shows how you can use naked eyes and 10X loupe to distinguish between Typa A and B jadeite.
A type B type
Colour Natural with yellow tone
the green is relatively fresh
Luster Transparency More transparent
consistent  than before treatment Top : Using spectroscope to determine Type C jadeite (Dyed )
Below: Using spectroscope to determine  Type B + C jadeite
with the type
of Jadeite
Surface pit hole pit hole
features little or none little to a lot
Crack May appear especially aged
never appeared type B jadeite
Structure Natural structure loose structure; with uncleared borders 
and directions
SG 3.40 to 3.30 lower than type A
UV lights None or orangy red  will show blue and white light.
if it is oily not applicable to deep coloured

Using a 10 X loupe, you should be able to see the following from the surface of the different types of Jadeite.

Orange peel surface of Type A jadeite.             Root of color Type A,   Type B  and              Type B + C               

natural orangenatural orange 2A color rootB color rootB & C color root

crack 2crack 3acid nettingacid netting 2

       Type B pit                   Type B crack line         Type B netty crack      Type B crack line

Step three: use your tools

Hardness Test

Gem's hardness means its resistance to scratching and wearability. We always use Moh's to show it's hardness. The table below shows its class: 

The normal mineral

..The hardness of common gems:

Gems name
Synthetic ruby, sapphire
Cubic zirconia
Synthetic spinel

..The hardness of common comparative object:

Common comparative object
Copper coin
Knife、 Glass
Steel file

Since the hardness of a knife (5.5) is lower than that of a jadeite (6.5-7),when you use the knife to scratch the jadeite, no mark will be left behind.  On the other hand, you will find scratching mark on the glass if you use jadeite to scratch it.Since this is a destructive test, you can always ask the seller to do the test for you, since he claims to sell you the jadeite.

Spectroscope Test
Using spectroscope to determine Type A, Type B and B+C jadeite.
Green type A jadeite will always exhibits an unusual pattern in the red/orange portion of the spectrum.  You will see a triplet -three bars with each bar stronger than the one adjacent to it.  The stongest bar will be at about 685; the next bar is weaker and appears at about 660; the third bar is the the weakest and appears at about 630.   

Top : Using spectroscope to determine Type C jadeite (Dyed )
Below: Using spectroscope to determine  Type B + C jadeite

Specific Gravity Test, Reflective Index Test, and UV Test

The most effective way is to measure the gemstone's specific gravity (Jadeite: 3.25-3.36; Nephrite: 2.90-3.02) and its reflective index (Jadeite: 1.64-1.67; Nephrite: 1.60-1.64) to confirm what you are buying is Jadeite. Then use UV lamp and spectroscope  to determine whether  it has been treated. Unfortunately this can only be carried out in your lab. On the other hand,experienced buyers are able to use their hands to gauge the specific gravity of  the gemstone.  Armed 10X loupes and a tourch light, they are able to see whether the gemstone is jadeite; and they are very good at it!

Final tip to buy jadeite
If the jadeite you want to purchase is of a high value; it is always worthwhile to pay for an independent report to confirm what you are buying is genuine Type A jadeite. A sample report from a reputable institute in Singapore is reproduced below for reference.

NGI jadecert

Hope that you have benefited from my tips to buy jadeite.