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What Makes Jade Special

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George Harlow

Jade is a very special rock. It has some really unique properties. People throughout history and in different parts of the world thought so, too.

Colors & Patterns

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scrapbook page with pictures of jade in many colors from pure white to green and orange to dark gray
ornate carved disk in pure white jade

chemically pure

Jade is white or colorless when it's chemically pure.

orange and white ornate jade carving

color patterns

Artists pay close attention to jade's color patterns to carve the most interesting objects. What do you think this is a carving of?

black jaguar carving stained with graphite, and jade bangle with lavender color because of manganese

stained with graphite and colored with manganese

These objects are really beautiful. Graphite, the black stuff in pencil lead, stained this jade tiger black. And a little manganese colored pure jade lavender.

white jade carved pendant with emerald green areas colored by chromium

colored with chromium

Sometimes, jade is colored by minor chemical changes in its mineral composition. See this pendant? A little chromium can make jade emerald green!

carving made of jade that was stained orange by rust

stained with rust

Sometimes, jade can be stained naturally. This happens when another mineral gets between the grains and turn jade another color. Iron oxide stained this jade orange.

lavender jade figurine and dark green jade pendants

treasured colors

The color of jade affects its value. Emerald green and lavender jade are really valuable in Asia. And a long time ago, blue-green jade was a treasured color in Mesoamerica.

Image Credits:

All photos: courtesy of AMNH