How To Tell If Jade Is Real: The 5 Best Foolproof Tests
Think of buying a beautiful jade bracelet only to find later that it's counterfeit. Oh no! You deserve better than that. But how to tell if jade is real? Is there any precise DIY method to know what's what?
Jade has been a popular gemstone for centuries. Its cultural significance is huge, especially in Latin America and China. Besides being coveted for its worth, the stone is considered a symbol of purity and virtue, as well as wisdom and courage.
Carving of gourd plant in white jade
But with a soaring price tag, fame, and demand comes the horde of scam artists who trick people into buying fake jade jewelry. There are many different types of jade out there and each one has its own unique qualities that can be used to determine authenticity.
So, it's time to put those Sherlock Holmes skills into action and figure out how to tell if your new shiny bracelet is genuine or fake. Let's explore some ways on how to identify faux vs. genuine jade pieces to avoid getting duped.
How To Tell If Jade Is Real: What Is Jade?
Jade is a gemstone that has been revered for centuries in various parts of the world for ceremonial and religious purposes. It's hard to believe, but the word "jade" comes from the Spanish term "piedra de ijada" or "stone of the flank." This makes sense when you learn that jade was believed to have mystical healing powers over kidney and loin ailments.
In ancient China, it was thought that wearing jade could cure diseases and ward off evil spirits, which is why they placed it on burial sites for royalty. Throughout history, this gemstone has been used in everything from ornamental carvings to jewelry with religious significance.
The mineral stone comes in various colors, displaying shades from pale green to deep black, and even white or yellowish gray. However, the green varieties of this stone are the most popular.
Jade has astrological significance too. Being an August birthstone it's believed to clean the root chakra of people in the Leo and Virgo zodiac signs.
Some other green gemstones are also quite important in astrology. One of them is peridot, which signifies sun and light. You will find it in a couple of highly aesthetic green shades.
How Many Types of Jade Are There?
There are basically two categories: nephrite and jadeite. They belong to different groups of minerals and the differences do not stop there. Some of the key distinctions are:
Nephrite jade comes in various shades of green and gray along with several brown, yellow, and white variations. China's popular mutton fat jade is a kind of creamy white nephrite, while its opaque white to light brown versions are familiar as chicken bone jade.
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These stones are typically translucent while fibrous ones have a cloudy appearance due to their fibers being packed together tightly like wool felt or silk organza fabric. After polishing, it takes on different shades depending on the polishing elements and techniques.
Compared to jadeite, nephrite is more available and slightly softer in nature (usually 6.0 to 6.5 in the Mohs scale). However, the stones still show good resistance to breakage.
Jadeite is a type of green jade that also comes in a lavender-gray to blue-green variety. A beautiful green-emerald variation is known as the Imperial Jade, which China's last emperor was quite fond of. He used it for himself and its rarity made him want it more than any other treasure.
Its primary colors are variations of green — blue-green, deep green, and pale green. However, you can find it in a handful of rare colors — from pink, lavender, and blackish tones to light purple with some white mottling. In contrast to nephrite, it has an even translucent quality that makes them appear nearly invisible when held up against the sky at midday.
Authentic jadeite is harder than nephrite, but both are good for carvings and jewelry pieces with intricate patterns. Its hardness ranges from 6.0 to 7.0 on the Mohs scale, which means it can scratch crystal and calcite but not quartz and corundum.
All jade lovers should know the differences between these two variations, so they can get what they're looking for when shopping for a new piece of jade jewelry.
Other Jade Variations
A Turkish purple jade or turkiyenite is widely used in the commercial market. Found in Turkey's Bursa region, it contains around 40 to 60 percent jadeite concentration.
Image by GemBeadBracelets via Etsy
The stones have a beautiful purple hue but don't display the same luminescence as the rare lavender or purple jadeite.
How to Tell If Jade Is Real: Tips to Spot a Fake Jade Bracelet
Let's go back to that jade bracelet that you have bought recently and have been flaunting at every party since then. Is it a real deal? Don't live in doubt. Test jade bracelet's authenticity with these simple but effective techniques:
1- The Look Test: Check the Texture
The first step when trying to identify whether your jade gemstone is genuine or not is assessing its texture. Jade comes in many different colors but should never be opaque or dull.
A lackluster texture means it's not authentic jade and could have been dyed with chemicals. If there are bubbles inside or two different colors within one stone, then chances are that particular piece of jewelry was made out of glass or imitation jade to make it look like an actual gemstone.
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The best jade is translucent and smooth to touch. Their color is vivid and striking that reflects light like water. There are opaque stones too, but they are quite inexpensive.
2- How To Tell If Jade is Real: The Light Test, looking for Consistency and Irregularities
The light test is probably the easiest of all options regarding how to tell if jade is real. Put your bracelet directly under the light and watch out for the color consistency. It should be consistent throughout with some minor variations and patterns. Fake jade will have blemishes inside or its coloration will be rather impeccable.
If the bracelet has a too-perfect and uniform pattern, then it's probably not authentic. Look for flaws in how the stone is cut or how lines appear on its surface. Authentic jade will have minor imperfections like dents on the surface even if it has been polished.
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However, a high-quality jade bracelet that comes at a premium price may not have these imperfections because of extensive polishing and quality control before displaying for sale.
3- The "Toss Test": How to Check the Density of Jade
If you're not sure how to identify jade bracelet's authenticity, toss it up in the air. If it's authentic, it should feel heavy upon catching. It feels so because original jade has a high density (nephrite jade is 2.90-3.03 and jadeite jade is 3.30-3.38).
Toss and then catch it a couple of times to get the feel of its weight. A fake one made of glass or other materials won't feel this heavy.
The toss or density test is no surefire way to find the real or fake jade but it's a popular method nonetheless.
4- The "Clicking Test": Listen to Jade Music
If you're still not sure how to tell if jade is real, then listen closely to its sound. Do you already have a genuine jade piece in your jewelry collection? If yes, tap it gently against your bracelet. Something metallic like a key or coin will also work but don't strike too hard. This is also called the "sound test".
If it's made out of glass, plastic, or another lightweight material, the sound will be quite hollow with some sort of echo. When you tap on true jade, that same noise comes back as more muted and deep resonant sounding.
5- How To Tell If Jade Is Real With The "Scratch Test"
The scratch test for jade jewelry is a simple way to determine if your bracelet is genuine or not.
An original jade stone is very hard that you cannot scratch easily with regular metal objects we use in our daily life. For example, the hardness of steel is 5.0 on the Mohs scale but jade hovers between 6.0 and 7.0, so the steel cannot nick jade's surface.
Scratch your bracelet's surface with a steel object like a knife or needle. If it leaves a clear mark, the jewelry piece is not genuine. Other jewelry gemstones like topaz or amethyst will nick jade easily, so that's a good way to tell real jade from fake.
No powdery substance should come off because of the scraping. If it does, it's probably a fake or low-quality jade.
Three Grades of Jade: Which One Do You Have?
To understand the quality of your jade bracelet, you must know about the grades of this gemstone available in the market. What does it mean if the jeweler says that it's a Type B jade bracelet? Does that mean real jade, a low-quality one, or something that's not jade at all?
Jewelers often use different techniques to stabilize gemstones. Common treatments are bleaching and layering, Depending on the nature of treatment and the quality of the stones, there are three different categories:
Type A jade is natural, meaning it hasn’t undergone any artificial treatment to stabilize or beautify it. Each element used for cleaning and polishing these stones is natural. Basically, jewelers use plum juice for cleaning and beeswax for polishing.
These jade gemstones are authentic too with their natural color, but they receive artificial treatments to some extent. Jewelers bleach these stones for purification and then inject polymers to intensify the translucent properties. These jade pieces look more polished than the Type A variations but they have less durability. Because of the polymer injection, Type B jade stones become brittle over time.
Type C refers to treated jade, which is the lowest grade among all real jade types available in the market. Jewelers bleach and dye jade extensively to enhance transparency. As the stones are already low-quality, the artificial treatments hasten their demise.
What Are Some Popular Imitation Jade Varieties?
There are some gemstones that are jade lookalikes but made of different elements. They are mainly sold as imitation jade at cheaper prices. If you want to know how to tell if jade is real, you should learn about replicas.
Serpentine Jade (New Jade, Korean Jade, Olive Jade)
Widely used as a jade substitute, its coloration is almost similar to real jade. However, serpentine is softer and won't pass the scratch test. Its colors range from various green shades to brown and yellow. Under the light test, it will show a visible white cloud shape on the inside.
Transvaal Jade (Grossular Garnet, South African Jade)
Pure grossular is white in color but it's also available in a few other varieties, including green, red, and yellow. The greener variation resembles jade on the surface; hence the name Transvaal jade, which is a marketing gimmick to increase its market value.
Grossular garnet is a popular February birthstone that is believed to bring positive effects in the life of Aquarius and Pisces people.
It's a brittle crystal that resembles jade with light green to yellow shades. The stone is also available in a few other shades along with a colorless version. It has a glass-like appearance and pearly gloss.
The Malaysia Jade
The Malaysia jade is highly popular in some Southeast Asian countries. The translucent quartz is often mistaken as high-quality jade. It's available in scads of colors because it's possible to dye them in almost any shade. Shades of blue, red, and yellow are the most prevailing colors of this type.
Australian Jade or Chrysoprase
Coming mostly from Queensland, Australia, the stone closely resembles the Burmese jade (Imperial). The translucent stone comes in various green shades because of the presence of nickel mineralization.
Mountain Jade (Dolomite Marble)
Coming from Asia, this imitation jade is a top-grade dolomite marble. It has a resemblance to not only jade but several other top-of-the-line gemstones because they can be dyed in multiple vivid shades.
Aventurine is a kind of quartz that has an uncanny affinity with jade. The common color of this gemstone is green but blue, orange, yellow, and brown variations are also readily available.
How to Tell If Jade Is Real: FAQs Section
Q. Is real jade cold to the touch?
Jade has a cool feeling to the touch and won't heat up even if you rub it against the skin or squeeze it tightly with your palms. Imitation materials are typically warmer because of having plastic or glass that retain heat more easily.
Q. How can you tell the quality of jade?
Only a jewelry expert can give the final verdict on the quality of a piece of jade jewelry. However, you should still look at the color, texture, and weight of the stone to make the primary assessment. Anything too perfect or too blotchy is suspicious.
Also, always purchase from a renowned trusted brand/retailer because real jade would never be available at a bargain price.
Q. How to Tell If Jade Is Real: Does jadeite glow in the dark?
No. Some highly translucent pieces may have a faint glow but a genuine piece of jadeite does not emit light in the dark or fluoresce under Ultraviolet (UV) light. A chemically bleached piece of jade can exude a pale blue-white glow under long-wave UV light.
Q. How to Tell If Jade Is Real: Which color of jade is most valuable?
Green. Jadeite is more valuable than nephrite and all expensive jade stones are different jadeite variations. Imperial jade, an almost transparent stone with a rich emerald-green color, is the most expensive of all types. Kingfisher jade comes second with a slightly less transparent shade of green.
Q. Is it bad luck to buy jade for yourself?
Not really. Hundreds and thousands of people buy jade jewelry pieces for themselves all over the world without facing any particular bad luck. However, Maori people practice the custom of gifting jade instead of buying or extracting from sources to maintain social balance.
How to Tell If Jade Is Real: Conclusion
Do you still have confusion regarding how to tell if jade is real? It's true that only experts can tell if a gemstone is genuine, but these tips could be a great starting point. Use them as guidelines when trying to figure out how to tell a real jade bracelet from imitation. Remember that each piece will vary slightly since no two stones will ever be exactly alike!