Everybody knows what jade is—sort of. Well, it’s green; you know that right? So is jadeite, which is a relative of jade, but a different mineral. Simply put: jade is nephrite. The similar-looking mineral, but rarer and more expensive, is jadeite. Jade comes from China, and jadeite comes from Burma; the most expensive jadeite contains chromium, and has a yellow tint. Jadeite is also slightly harder than jade. And to put you back in mind of logic conundrums in math class, all jadeite is jade, but not all jade is jadeite.
Because jadeite is rarer than jade, there is more that goes into determining its value, namely color, texture, and transparency. Not all jade—and definitely not all jadeite—is green. The most desirable jadeite is green, but it’s also commonly found in red, yellow, orange, black, brown, purple, and gray. The finest examples are nearly transparent, and have an emerald green color. Kingfisher jade, apple jade, and moss-in-snow jade, which is white with green areas, are also highly sought.
Jadeite is generally smooth to touch, but there are variations as defined by crystal structure, and, the finer the feel, the more valuable the stone. Coarse, medium, and fine roughly translate to new mine, older mine, old mine. In this case, old means more refined. Crystal structure also defines how tough the stone is. Of course, size, weight, and cut (most often cabochon or beads), also affect the value of jadeite pieces you find in pawn shops throughout Northern Virginia.