Minerals Falsely Sold as Jade
By Molly Kalafut
As described in the section on "fake jades", many minerals (especially green ones!) are sometimes described and sold as jade but are not, in fact jade. This page goes into more detail about the minerals and substances that are not jade, and offers suggestions for how to differentiate it from true jade.
As a warning, this page needs a lot of revision and work to get it up to true geology specifications. Until then, please just take this information as a general guide.
Agate is sometimes misrepresented as jade, particularly white agate speckled with spinach-green. Agate can be hard and polished to a shine like jade, but it is much less dense. It is comprised of Silica SiO2 and Soda Na2O.
Albite is a variety of feldspar. The white albite variety when combined with green actinolite may be misrepresented as jade.
Andesine is a variety of plagioclase feldspar. It is sometimes misrepresented as jade.
Amazonite is a green variety of microcline feldspar and sometimes misrepresented as jade. The color ranges from green to blue-green that is caused by lead. Amazonite is primarily collected from India. It was named for the Amazon River, though it does not occur in the Amazon River area.
Andradite is sometimes misrepresented as jade, particularly the dark green coloration. It is actually harder than jade.
Aragonite that has been dyed green is sometimes misrepresented as jade.
Green aventurine is a variety of quartz that is sometimes misrepresented as jade. Also, aventurine that is dyed purple is sometimes misrepresented a purple jade. It is quartzite that is colored green by impurities of fuchsite mica. It belongs to the group of macrocrystalline quartz (that also include chrysoprase, carnelian and bloodstone). It is primarily found in Brazil, India and Russia.
The green varieties of beryl are sometimes misrepresented as jade. It can be detected by the lower specific gravity.
Bowenite is a variety of serpentine that is sometimes misrepresented as jade. Bowenite occurs in a part of Rhode Island, hence it's name "Rhode Island Jade".
Bonamite is an apple-green variety of smithsonite that is sometimes misrepresented as jade.
Calcite is sometimes misrepresented as jade, particularly if it has been dyed green or is onyx marble. It is not as hard as jade and effervesces with dilute hydrochloric acid.
Californite is also called "Vesuvianite" and "Idocrase" and is commonly misrepresented as jade. It is usually green but can also be white, yellow, bluish or red-brown. It usually occurs in metamorphic rocks, particularly impure limestone. High quality californite can be difficult to distinguish from jade; some experts recommend index of refraction determinations to identify the material.
Chalcedony is a variety of quartz that is misrepresented as several types of fake jades. It has a lower specific gravity than true jade. Chrysoprase, plasma and prase varieties of chalcedony are most often faked.
Chrysoprase is a variety of chalcedony quartz that is bright green and can be very clear. It is sometimes misrepresented as jade, and since it is very hard as well (7-7.5) it can be difficult to tell the difference.
"OK itís not Jadeite or Imperial Jade but the quality is good and it looks the part for a small fraction of the cost. When itís is made up into fine Jade Jewellery only experts with testing equipment could possibly tell the difference." -Raven Bell Exports Ltd
Cordierite is a mineral that is sometimes misrepresented as gray-colored jadeite. It has a lower specific gravity and is actually harder than jade.
A website describes this as:
Dolostone that is dyed green and fine-grained may be misrepresented as jade. It isn't nearly as hard as true jade.
Low quality emeralds are sometimes misrepresented as jade, especially low quality translucent to sub-translucent emerald.
Microcline feldspar and it's variation "Amazonite" are sometimes misrepresented as jade. Luckily feldspar can usually be detected just from looking at it. Feldspar is a very common mineral. There are two groups; alkali and plagioclase.
The microcline feldspar is a common potassium feldspar variety from the alkali group. They are often found in granites. The green color variety is called "amazonite" or "green microcline amazonite" and may be caused by trace lead and OH-1. Interestingly, microcline is mixed with kaolin and quartz to make porcelain, and it is also used in the manufacture of glass.
Green fluorite may be misrepresented as jade. It is significantly softer than true jade.
There are several dozen types of garnets that come in all colors except blue. The "grossular" garnet can be green and misrepresented as jade. In fact, the name "grossular" comes from the gooseberry's Latin name, R. grossularia and refers to the pale green color.
Grossular garnets are usually found in metamorphic deposits with impure limestones. The grossular colors can range in combinations of green, yellow, gray brown and black. The color variations are caused by trace element impurities.
Gibbsite that is dyed green is sometimes misrepresented as jade. It isn't as hard and has a lower specific gravity.
Hard as it may be to believe, green-colored glass is sometimes misrepresented as jade. Luckily it can often be detected as fake due to visible air bubbles, the fragility and obvious lower weight.
Glass is sometimes passed off as jade, particularly the Imperial green or white colors. It is much less dense than jade, and may contain small air bubbles. The glass is sometimes called "Beijing glass" or "Peking glass".
Beware that some eBay merchants use "Jade" to mean "Green" - even when it's just glass
Jasper is a variety of the type of quartz called "chert". The color is usually red, brown or yellow. Jasper is sometimes misrepresented as jade, especially if it has been dyed green. The natural red-brown color is caused by hematite or goethite impurities. Jasper is mostly found in Venezuela and India.
A website describes this as:
Malachite is a lovely green stone that is sometimes misrepresented as jade. Malachite has a hardness of only 3.5-4 compared to jade's 6-7. It is primarily found in Zaire. It is also usually visually distinctive from the alternating bands of light and dark greens.
Marble with patterns similar to jade is sometimes dyed green and misrepresented as jade. It is far softer than jade and can be determined as fake visually.
Maw Sit Sit is named after a town in Myanmar/Burma where it was discovered by Swiss Gemologist Eduard Gubelin in 1963. It contains chromite, ureyite, chrome jadeite, symplektite, chrome amphibole. A website describes this as:
Metavariscite is sometimes misrepresented as jade. It is much softer at 3-4 than jade that is 6-7. It can usually be visually detected as not jade.
Nunderite is a green rock with brown speckles that is made up of jadeite with plagioclase feldspar. It is found in New South Wales, Australia. It is obviously composed of different minerals if you look at it closely.
A quote from a website I found state:
A low quality opal is sometimes misrepresented as jade when it is called "fire jade".
Pectolite is name for a "tough massive fine-grained pale green pectolite-rich rock". It is sometimes misrepresented as jade. Deposits have been found near Point Barrow, Alaska - hence the (inaccurate!) term "Alaska Jade".
Picrolite is a fibrous variety of serpentine that is sometimes misrepresented as jade. It is also called baltimorite.
Prehnite is sometimes misrepresented as jade.
Quartz & Quartzite
Quartz is one of the most common minerals in the world and comprises 12% of the earth's crust. Several forms of quartz are misrepresented as jade.
Reddish quartzite is sometimes sold as jade. Quartzite that is dyed green or yellow may be sold as jade. Some dye quartzite to resemble "moss-in-snow" jade.
These quartzes include amethyst, rose quartz, citrine and smoky quartz. They have crystals that are visible to the naked eye.
The cryptocrystalline quartzes have crystals that are too small to be seen with the naked eye or light microscope. There are two types of cryptocrystalline quartz; fibrous and microgranular.
The fibrous type is called "chalcedony". It includes chrysoprase, carnelian and bloodstone.
The granular type is called "chert". It includes jasper and flint.
Saponite is a variety of talc that is sometimes misrepresented as jade. It is considerably softer.
Saussurite is sometimes misrepresented as jade. It is a combination of rocks that can include albite, epidote, zoisite, calcite, sericitic mica, zeolite minerals and prehnite. It is hard and difficult to distinguish from jade, but luckily it rarely occurs in enough of the correct colors for carvings.
Serpentine is a frequent culprit of jade misrepresentation. The serpentine may be dyed, and sometimes varieties are coated with wax or paraffin. Serpentine is not as hard and the luster is more waxy and less brilliant that jadeite.
Antigorite is a variety of serpentine sometimes called Korean jade. A massive variety of antigorite is called williamsite and contains chromite.
Bowenite is found in New Zealand, China, United States and Afghanistan and is sometimes called jade.
Chlorite is a variety of serpentine that is sometimes called jade.
Specific colors of serpentine are sometimes misrepresented as jade. Black serpentine may be misrepresented as "black jade".
Serpentine is harder than soapstone so it can be more difficult to detect, but can still be scratched visibly with steel knives or sharp objects. It is made up of magnesium iron silicate hydroxide. A density test can help determine if it is actually jade.
Sillimanite is a variety of fibrolite that can be difficult to distinguish from true jade. Since it doesn't usually occur in pieces large enough to carve it doesn't appear on market very often.
Smithsonite is sometimes misrepresented as jade, particularly the apple-green variety called bonamite. It isn't as hard and effervesces with warm diluted hydrochloric acid.
Soapstone is sometimes misrepresented as jade.
Soapstone dyed green is a commonly found fake jade. However it is easy to tell because it is usually a "soapy" lime green color and can be visibly scratched with a mere fingernail.
Dark green chromiferous syenite is sometimes misrepresented as jade. It is from Bhamo, Myanmar. Looking at it should be enough to detect the difference between syenite and jade.
Talc is sometimes misrepresented as jade.
Tangawaite is a variety of serpentine called bowenite that can be misrepresented as jade. It is from New Zealand.
Thulite has a variety called "zoisite" that may be misrepresented as pink jade.
Tremolite is a rock that is sometimes misrepresented as jade.
Verite is a green rock made of green mica fuchsite that contains rutile and clay. It is softer than true jade.
Candle wax is sometimes used for intricate Chinese carvings and misrepresented as jade. It is much softer, much lighter and feels much different from true jade.
Williamsite is a name for an apple-green color of serpentine. The color can be affected by chromite or magnetite. It is found in Pennsylvania.
Zoisite is a variety of thulite that may be misrepresented as pink jade.
Mineral Miners - Lots of interesting mineral information and beautiful photos.
Ring Things Gemstone List - This lists many types of jades that aren't jade, and they even get bonus points for describing which of their 'jades' are really serpentine and they get bonus points for admitting when they don't know what something is. I quote..."Tree Jade: With its bright-green coloring and cloudy white flecks, this gemstone imparts a springtime feeling. As to its origin, we have no clue what stone it really is!"
Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and beyond! By Molly Kalafut