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When it comes to green gemstones, jade and emerald are two names that often come up. While they both share a beautiful green hue, they're different in terms of composition, appearance, and cultural significance. Here's what sets them apart.

Composition and Hardness of Emerald and Jade

Emerald

Emeralds are a variety of the mineral beryl and are primarily known for their deep green colour. They contain chromium and sometimes vanadium, which give them their vibrant colour. Emeralds are relatively hard, scoring 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. However, they often have inclusions and surface-reaching fractures, making them less durable.

Jade

Jade is actually a term that refers to two different minerals: nephrite and jadeite. Nephrite ranges in colour from creamy white to green and is the softer of the two, scoring 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. Jadeite, which is rarer, comes in a variety of colours, including green, and is slightly harder, scoring about 6.5 to 7. Its composition is different from nephrite and includes elements such as sodium and aluminium.


Jadeite, c/o Mindat.org

Appearance of Emerald and Jade

Emerald

Emeralds are prized for their transparency and depth of colour. The most valuable emeralds are highly transparent with a vivid green hue, often described as "emerald green." However, inclusions usually affect their clarity, which can affect the gem's durability but can also help to verify its authenticity. They also grow as long prismatic crystals, with 6-fold symmetry.

Jade

Jade has a more opaque appearance than emeralds. Its value is determined by its colour, texture, and transparency, with the most prized jade being a rich, intense green and highly translucent. Jade can also come in other colours, such as lavender, red, orange, yellow, brown, white, black, and grey. Jade does not grow as prismatic crystals in the same way that emerald would. It forms as massive, irregular shapes.


Rough emerald crystals

Cultural Significance of Emerald and Jade

Emerald

Emeralds have been cherished since ancient times, symbolising wealth, power, and beauty. They were particularly valued in the Egyptian, Incan, and Mughal empires. Today, emeralds are seen as symbols of love, rebirth, and fertility.

Jade

Jade holds a special place in Asian cultures, especially in China, where it's considered the "Stone of Heaven." Jade symbolises purity, moral integrity, and wisdom. It's used in a variety of decorative and practical applications, from jewellery to ceremonial objects.


Nephrite, c/o Mindat.org

Price of Emerald and Jade

Both jade and emerald can be valuable, but their prices vary greatly depending on quality. High-quality emeralds, especially those without too many inclusions and with vivid colour, can fetch very high prices. Similarly, the finest jadeite, known as "Imperial Jade," is highly sought after and can be exceptionally expensive, often exceeding the price of diamonds.

Conclusion

While both jade and emerald offer stunning shades of green that have charmed people for centuries, they are distinctly different in their composition, appearance, and cultural significance. Whether you're drawn to the deep, transparent green of emeralds or the opaque, smooth texture of jade, each gem has its own unique beauty and history to appreciate.

Candice Hamilton

Founder of Self & Others


With a background in gemmology and a passion for holistic healing, Candice aims to demystify crystal healing and provide practical guidance on how to incorporate crystals into daily life, allowing individuals to experience their transformative benefits firsthand.

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