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How to Tell if Jade Is Real

Three Parts:Recognizing JadePerforming Basic TestsPerforming a Density Test

Jade is a beautiful stone that can be green, orange, yellow or white, and is graded high, medium and low in terms of quality. If you are about to go shopping for jade or have an old piece of jade, it's good to be able to determine if you've found the real thing, or a good fake. By learning to recognize real and fake jades, as well as performing quick and simple tests, you'll be able to verify your purchases. See Step 1 for more instructions.

Part 1
Recognizing Jade

  1. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 1
    Learn about real jade. Only jadeite jade and nephrite jade are considered authentic jade.
    • The most expensive and desirable jadeite (Burmese Jadeite, Burma Jade, Imperial Jade, or Chinese Jade) usually comes from Myanmar (formerly Burma), but small quantities are mined in Guatemala, Mexico and Russia. Jade can come from many places, but the most common color is green.
    • 75% of the world’s jade come from the mines of British Columbia in the form of nephrite, but that's also mined in Taiwan, the United States and (in small amounts) Australia.
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    Be aware of what constitutes imitation jade. Materials passed off as jade include:
    • Serpentine ("New Jade" or "Olive Jade")
    • Prehnite
    • Aventurine quartz
    • Grossular garnet ("Transvaal jade")
    • Chrysoprase ("Australian jade" - most of it comes from Queensland, Australia)
    • Malaysia Jade (permanently dyed translucent quartz that may be called by its color – Red Jade, Yellow Jade, Blue Jade)
    • Opaque dolomite marble ("Mountain Jade" - from Asia, dyed in vibrant colors)
    • In New Zealand Greenstone or Pounamu is highly regarded by Māori. Māori people recognize four main types of pounamu, identifying their color and translucence: kawakawa, kahurangi, īnanga. These are all nephrite. They also regard a fourth type of pounamu - tangiwai- from Milford Sound which, although prized, is actually bowenite and authentic jade in the eyes of the rest of the world.
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    Hold the jade up to a bright light. If possible, examine the internal structure with a 10X loupe. Can you see little fibrous or granular, felt-like, asbestos-like intertwinings? If so, it's probably genuine nephrite or jadeite. Chrysoprase, on the other hand, is microcrystalline, so it'll look homogeneous.
    • If you see anything resembling layers with the 10X loupe, you're probably looking at jadeite that's been "doubled" or even "tripled" (thin layer of gem-quality jadeite sometimes glued over a different base).
  4. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 4
    Learn to recognize deceptive practices. Even if you have real jade in your hands, it can still be treated by dyeing, bleaching, use of stabilizing polymers, or creating jade doublets and triplets. Jade is divided into three categories based on these possibilities:
    • Type A - Natural, untreated, undergoes a traditional process (plum juice washing and polishing with beeswax), no "artificial treatments" (e.g. high temperature or high-pressure treatments). This has a "true" color.
    • Type B - Chemically bleached to remove impurities; injected with polymer with the use of a centrifuge to enhance translucency; covered with hard and clear plastic like coating. Subject to instability and discoloration over time because polymer gets broken down by heat or household detergent; nevertheless, still 100% real jade with 100% natural color.
    • Type C - Chemically bleached; dyed to enhance color; subject to discoloration over time due to reaction with strong light, body heat or household detergent.

Part 2
Performing Basic Tests

  1. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 5
    Toss the stone in the air and catch it in your palm. Real jade has a very high density, which means it will feel somewhat heavier than it looks. If it feels heavier than most stone pieces of the same size and passes the eye test, it is more likely to be authentic jade.[1]
    • This is obviously an imprecise but effective test to perform, and once commonly used by traders and purchasers of gems.
  2. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 6
    Tap the stones together. Another traditional way to judge the density of stones without measuring is to observe the sound of plastic beads gently tapping each other. If you have a piece of real jade, clink it against the stone in question. If it sounds like plastic beads, then the stone in question is probably fake. If there's a deeper, more resonant sound to the clicking, it might be authentic.
  3. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 7
    Hold the piece of jade in your hand. It should feel cold, smooth and somewhat soap-like in your hand. It should take a while to get warm if it is real. This is most helpful when you can compare it to real jade of a similar shape and size.
  4. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 8
    Perform a scratch test. Jadeite is very hard; it will scratch glass or even metal. Nephrite, however, can be much softer, so performing a scratch test improperly may damage a genuine piece. If it scratches glass or steel, it could still be many of the alternatives to jade as well, including the various forms of green quartz and prehnite.
    • Use the blunt end of a pair of scissors and gently press down and draw a line on an area on the jade piece. Do this on the bottom side to avoid vandalizing the carving.
    • Avoid any weathering surfaces because these are much softer and can be easily damaged. If the scratch makes a white line, gently wipe it off (it might be metal residue from the scissors). Is there still a scratch? If so, it's probably not authentic jade.

Part 3
Performing a Density Test

  1. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 9
    Divide the weight of the substance by the volume. Both jadeite and nephrite have a very high density (jadeite - 3.3; nephrite - 2.95). Density is measured by dividing the weight (in grams) by the volume (c.c.).
  2. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 10
    Use crocodile clamps to grasp the jade item. If the scale doesn't come with crocodile clamps, wrap the tested jade with a piece of string, a rubber band or a ponytail holder.[2]
  3. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 11
    Lift the spring scale by its top handle to weight the stone in grams. Record the weight. It's important to use a scale based on grams, therefore measuring force in dynes.
  4. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 12
    Gently place the jade item completely into the water bucket and write down its weight in water. The clamp can touch the water; it shouldn't significantly affect the weight.
    • If you're concerned, however, use one of the alternatives described above. Since the test is based on the difference in weight, as long as the string, band or ponytail holder remains on the jade both in the air and in the water, the difference will be the same.
  5. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 13
    Calculate the volume of jade item. Divide the weight in the air by 1000 (or 981 if you have a calculator handy) and subtract the weight in water divided by 1000 (or 981 if you have a calculator handy). This gives the mass in grams in air and the apparent mass in water. Subtract the in-water value from the air value to determine the volume in cc.
  6. Image titled Tell if Jade Is Real Step 14
    Compare to the specifications of real jade. Once you've calculated the density of the jade item, see if the number suggests authentic jade. Jadeite has a density of 3.20-3.33 g/cc, while nephrite has a density of 2.98 - 3.33 g/cc.


  • If you really love jade and want high quality pieces, the piece you purchase should be accompanied by a lab certificate verifying that the piece is "A" quality. Most established, high end retail jewelers only sell A quality.
  • If there are air bubbles in the jade, it is not real.


  • With a scratch test, you can destroy a perfectly good piece of nephrite jade.
  • Ancient jade pieces are usually unique. If you see a dealer selling many designs that look similar, this is a red flag. Ask plenty of questions, and request a certificate of authenticity.
  • Never do a scratch test on a piece you don't own. If you damage the piece, you will be forced to pay damages. Be sure to clean it with alcohol before you start.

Things You'll Need

For the density test:

  • Spring scale (100 gram, 500 gram, or 2500 gram, depending on the weight of the piece(s) you're testing)
  • Bucket, big enough for you to dip your piece(s) of jade in
  • Strings
  • ponytail holder
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper towel (to dry items)

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