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Fake Jades Jade Collecting Avoiding Fakes

Buying & Collecting Jade

About True Jade & Fakes

By Molly Kalafut


For a number of years now I've been slowing building a collection of jade carvings. Jade collecting takes a surprising amount of knowledge to avoid getting suckered by a bad deal.

The first thing an amateur jade buyer or collector needs to know is that many merchants have a tendency to call any green-looking stone "jade", when it may really just be serpentine, glass or even plastic. Sadly, a number of names for minerals are very misleading because they use the word "jade" but are not, in fact, either jadeite or nephrite.

Fake Jade Names

My description of 60+ types of items that falsely masquerade as "jade"

Jade Buying Tips

My suggestions for identifying true jades and exposing frauds

Non-Jade Minerals

My descriptions of many minerals that may pose or be substituted for real jade

About Jadeite & Nephrite

The term "jade" actually refers to two types of minerals; one called jadeite and one called nephrite. Both have been valued throughout Asia; particularly China and India. It wasn't until the 1860s that it was realized that jade was really two different types. They are different in several ways, but also similar in their toughness, durability and difficulty to carve. In fact, due to that toughness it isn't "carved" in the usual meaning of the term. First the jade is cut with saws, then ground with abrasive powder, and then diamond drills are used for hollowing out the details.

Nephrite

Nephrite is the most common type of jade, and also softer than jadeite. It is also what was historically considered "jade" in Asia. Nephrite has been carved in China for at least 4,000 years. This knowledge comes in handy when trying to identify the age of a carving, as Chinese carvings prior to the 1780s are made of nephrite, not jadeite.

The most common colors are a dark "spinach" green, followed by white, brown and yellow. The color intensity is not high and doesn't polish to look as brilliant and shiny as jadeite. The colors in nephrite are affected by the amount of iron in it. White, cream and gray are produced by low levels of iron. Green and dark gray is produced by higher levels of iron.

The chemical structure is amphibole silicate (magnesium/iron silicate) in the actinolite series.

It is usually mined in:

bullet Central Asia
bullet Taiwan
bullet Australia & New Zealand
bullet British Columbia (Canada)
bullet Alaska, California & Wyoming (USA)

Jadeite

Jadeite is less common than nephrite, but it is harder and polishes to a more brilliant shine. It now commands higher prices than nephrite. The structure is sodium aluminum silicate. It is denser and tougher than nephrite. It is usually mined in Burma, Myanmar and occasionally Guatemala. Some sources also say it has been found in California and Japan.

The shades of color are usually green, but also red, blue, pink, purple, violet and white. The green jadeite colors are usually a lighter green than nephrite. The colors are influenced by the presence of iron, chromium, cobalt and others. Red colors are caused by iron. Green is caused by chromium. Black comes from chromium and iron. Purple is caused by chromium, iron and cobalt.


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Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and beyond! By Molly Kalafut