Geology Home Page
Roger Weller, geology instructor
by Amanda Couch
Jade vs. Serpentine
Left: Jade (nephrite)
Photos by R. Weller/Cochise College
Jade has been around for over 7000 years. The word jade actually comes from the Spanish “Piedra de ijada” which means “hip-stone” because it was thought to be a protector against kidneys disease and even a cure for it. It was also known as “lapis nephriticus” because of the benefits it actually did have on kidneys. Jade actually consists of two completely different minerals: jadeite and nephrite. Both minerals are very tough.
Jade is extremely tough and was used for axes, knives, and other weapons by early civilizations until it was used in religious artifacts. Jadeite comes in many different colors such as: white, red, black, pink, brown, violet, and green. Nephrite ranges between light green to dark green to a gray-green. Nephrite can also be white, yellowish, or reddish. The “Imperial jade”, the emerald green one, is the most valuable. In 1997, a jadeite necklace was sold for $10 million.
Jade is believed to protect against misfortune and accidents. It is believed that jade can attract love. In China, jade carved into the form of a butterfly is believed to draw love to it. An Ancient Chinese myth tells of a young boy who was caught in the garden of a wealthy Chinese-man in pursuit of a multi-colored butterfly. Instead of being punished for trespassing, his visit led to his marriage with the man's daughter.
Jade has many uses today: statues,
figurines, jewelry, and other things.
Serpentine gets its name from exactly what you would think, a serpent. The color and appearance of serpentine is similar to that of a snake. It is believed that serpentine aids in meditation and spiritual experiences. It is used in thermal conductivity, as an industrial mineral, and as an ornamental stone.
In my opinion, the Imperial Jade is extremely beautiful. It looks very elegant and makes a piece of jewelry, a figurine, or a statue look antique. Serpentine is also very beautiful. After doing o research on these minerals and learning of their healing and helpful properties, I may got and invest in a few of them. I mean, who wouldn’t want to help draw love to them, prevent kidney disease, and help reduce stress? If those things were tested and true, everyone should get them and the world would be a much better and more calm place to live.
Jade ranges from 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness,
while Serpentine ranges from 2.5 to 5.5 on the Scale.
Jade has a glassy luster, while Serpentine has a greasy or waxy luster.
The chemical formula for jadeite is NaAl(Si2O6)
and the chemical formula for nephrite is Ca2(MgFe)5(Si4O11)2.
The formula for serpentine is Mg3Si2O5(OH)4