Why Does Jade Fade?

By Alane Michaelson ; Updated March 16, 2018
Jade has been a symbol of wealth and imperialism in China.

Jade has symbolized good and beauty for centuries and is known for its unique shades of green. More than 7,000 years ago, men used the strong gemstone for tools and weapons. In modern history, jade was frequently worn as jewelry or displayed in carvings. Though it is known for its green hue, jade can also be found in white, grey, black or orange colors.

Jadeite

Jadeite is one of the two materials commonly called "jade" and it is the more rare and valuable variety. Historical carvings are often made of jadeite, and jadeite mines can be found in Guatemala, Russia, California and Burma. Burma is commonly the source of high-quality jadeite. Jadeite can be found in the prized imperial or emerald green tone, but is also pink, lavender, brown, white and other colors.

Nephrite

Nephrite is the more common and less expensive jade variety. Its color is darker and less green than jadeite. Nephrite mines can be found in Taiwan, North America, New Zealand and Russia. Carvings and jewelry made from jade in modern days are commonly made from nephrite. Historical carvings made of nephrite are also valuable, even though they are made from inferior stones.

Cause of Fade

Naturally-occurring jade gemstones do not fade, but inferior stones can fade after being treated to look like high-quality jade. Stained jade gemstones are bleached, impregnated with a form of plastic and dyed. This treatment is not detectable to the naked eye, but the dyes added will fade over time. Since the process used to treat jade is so sophisticated, spectrographic analysis is required to reliably detect jade treatment. Vendors are required to notify customers when they know a gemstone has been treated, but it is also a good idea for buyers to ask.

Jade Lookalikes

Jade lookalikes include serpentine, a greenish-yellowish gemstone; bowenite, another variety of serpentine; carnelian, a dark stone that looks like black jade; quartz, a common mineral crystal found in many colors and soapstone, a soft stone that can be dyed green. No synthetic jade is available on the market. To ensure a jade piece is authentic, take the stone to a professional and trustworthy jeweler for an evaluation.

About the Author

Alane Michaelson began writing professionally in 2002. Her work has appeared in Michigan publications such as the "Detroit Free Press" and the "Flint Journal." Michaelson graduated from Oakland University in 2006, earning a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.