Emerald vs Jade: Both Green, But What Makes Them Different?

Wondering the difference between emerald and jade?

Perfect, you're in the right place.

In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the top questions asked about both of these gorgeous green gemstones like: 

emerald vs jade
  • Is Emerald Good For An Engagement Ring?
  • Is Jade Expensive? 
  • Is Lab-Created Emerald Real Emerald?

Emerald vs Jade: Origin

Emerald

Emerald is the most popular green gem in demand in the jewelry industry today. It’s known as one of the core precious stones alongside diamonds, sapphires, and rubies

Emeralds are the light to dark green variety of the mineral beryl. Other popular colored stones that hail from the beryl family include morganite and aquamarine.

The first emerald deposits opened up as early as 500BC. Emeralds have been used since ancient times and were popular during Cleopatra’s reign.  

Back then, they didn’t know how to cut them into faceted gemstones. They remained in their hexagonal crystal shape. Early emerald jewelry consisted of drilled beads or cabochons. 

These highly sought after gemstones can be natural or lab-created. The most notable emerald deposits in the world come from Zambia, Columbia, and Brazil. They are found in many other countries, including the United States. 

Jade

A lot of people are familiar with jade, but don’t know more than that. Jade is actually the collective name of two minerals: nephrite and jadeite. Jadeite is the more rare and prized of the two. 

Like emeralds, jade stones have been used in ancient empires. Jadeite and nephrite were prized by the Maori, the Chinese, and Mesoamerican cultures like the Aztecs. The stones were often carved into figurines and ornamental designs or they became beads. 

Even today, both types of jade aren’t faceted. Jade stones are still carved into beautiful and intricate designs and priced highly as art. 

jadeite

Bishop, Heber R. The Heber R. Bishop Collection of Jade and other Hard Stones. Handbook no. 10. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1909, p. 53. Public Domain image. 

The most popular places to find jadeite are Myanmar and China. In 2016, the US lifted the ban on jadeite from Myanmar. 

Nephrite, the other green gem species of jade, has the same symbolism and uses like jadeite, but is more abundant and less valuable. Nephrite is found in places like China, Canada, and Russia. 

Emerald vs Jade: Appearance

Emerald Color

Even though emerald is considered a green variety of beryl, it’s not green beryl. If someone’s trying to pass off green beryl as emerald, steer clear. 

To be more specific, green beryl doesn’t meet the coloring standards to be an emerald. They are often a misty sea green, or translucent light green color

Natural emerald gets its green color from chromium impurities.

For a piece of green beryl to be called an emerald, it needs to have better tone and saturation. The hues of emeralds can be from yellowish-green to bluish-green

The saturation of the emerald’s color should be richly green. An emerald with lower saturation looks more like a grayish green color.

Emerald Optics & Treatments

Emeralds are a little different. Inclusions are very common in emeralds and they don’t impact price as much as other faceted stones. Clear emeralds are rare, and are priced accordingly. 

They often have a mass of inclusions normally, which is referred to as the jardin (yar-din). That’s French for “garden”. The garden refers to the way emerald inclusions look like vines in a garden growing within the stone. You should avoid emeralds with black inclusions because those are unappealing. 

This is an attractive lower clarity emerald gemstone with a beautiful jardin. 

Most natural emeralds in the jewelry market have received treatments. Not all of them, but the majority have.

These treatments can be used to alter color or inclusions. A grading report from a legitimate grading lab like the GIA should tell you if it's treated. 

You should know the treatments of an emerald if you are buying one. Coatings have to be re-applied, some heat treated emeralds alter with more heat, and others are permanent. 

Emerald Synthetics and Imitations

Lab created emeralds are real emeralds formed into a lab instead of the ground. Scientists are able to create eye-clean versions with deep green colors easier, but they’re also a lot cheaper. 

Light emeralds aren’t a thing. There are gem sellers all over the web advertising green beryl as imitation emerald. The price difference between the two is pretty big. 

Green gems that are commonly confused with or passed off as real emeralds include

  • Green Beryl
  • Green Sapphire
  • Green Jadeite
  • Peridot
  • Green Glass

Jade Color

Many people view jade as a green gemstone. The same goes for onyx as a black gemstone. However, both of those gem species occur in other colors. 

Jadeite occurs in the following colors: 

  • All Shades of Green
  • Colorless
  • White
  • Red
  • Black
  • Purple
  • Orange
  • Yellow-Green
  • Honey Brown
  • Brown
  • Blue

Nephrite has less of a color range:

  • Milky Beige (mutton fat jade)
  • Green
  • Brown
  • Grayish Brown
  • Dark Brown
  • Yellow
  • Yellow-Green
  • Black

Jade Optics & Treatments

Since jade isn’t really faceted, inclusions aren’t a factor in its value. Imperial green is the top color, and only jadeite occurs in this shade. Green jade ranges from opaque to translucent in best quality.

Because imperial green is rare for jadeite, lesser qualities may be enhanced for color. The most common is a dyed jade stone. Dyes bring down the value, but make the color like Imperial jade. You should always make sure your jewelry retailer lets you know if it’s been treated. 

Nephrite is more dense, so you won’t run into dyed versions of it. However, both nephrite jade and jadeite jade can still be subjected to other color enhancements like bleaching, heating, and infusion. 

Jade Synthetics & Imitations

There’s no lab-created jade- nephrite or jadeite. Jade can be imitated by other gem materials and confused with other stones like: 

  • Serpentine
  • Dyed Chalcedony
  • Dyed quartz
  • Aventurine

  • Malachite
  • Prehnite
  • Glass

The most popular imitation is glass. Other color varieties of jade can be imitated by other opaque stones like carnelian and jasper.

Emerald vs Jade: Price & Value

There’s a few different factors that affect the price of emeralds, but the most important factor is its color hues. 

The most prized colored emeralds come from Colombia. The best Colombian emeralds have a bluish-green hue. An emerald’s color is best when it contains 10-15% blue as a secondary hue.

This is a Columbian Emerald from Leibish & Co

Top color Columbian Emeralds are priced between $3200-$9000 for a 1 carat emerald. 

For Very Good to Good emerald color, the prices can be as low as $900 to as high as $8000. 

The prices on an emerald will fluctuate from under $1000 to well over $50,000. 

Emeralds are one of the most popular colored stones desired for an alternative engagement ring. However, emeralds aren’t recommended as an everyday stone for someone with an active lifestyle. 

They reach a 7.5-8 on the Moh scale. A gem on with this rating will hold up fair to well, but you’ll want to take good care of it. It requires more upkeep than a sapphire, ruby, or diamond

They also have imperfect cleavage, which means they’re more likely to break or chip from a hard hit. But don’t worry, most faceted gemstones have cleavage. Imperfect cleavage is the 2nd tier. 

Jade is different. Emerald is valued based on its quality and color, but jade isn’t. The color and opaqueness of the stone doesn’t matter as much as what the jade piece has been made into. 

Jade worth is valued on the artistry of the gem carver, and the size of the piece. The more intricate, the more valuable. A jade carving can be thousands of dollars and more.

Thicker jade pieces of jade jewelry such as a natural jade bangle or pendants with large jade gemstones can be very expensive.

It's very durable and has no cleavage, unlike a semi-precious gemstone like emerald.


Conclusion

Both emerald and jade are gorgeous green stones with different attributes. 

Here's some things to remember about jade jewelry: 

  • Jade is a strong gemstone that is not easily broken
  • You should always ask if jade is dyed before buying it
  • Jade can't be faceted into a transparent gemstone
  • Jade is used more for pendants and other jewelry rather than engagement rings

Here's some things to remember about buying emerald jewelry:

  • It's okay for emeralds to have inclusions
  • Emeralds can be good for engagement rings, but not should not be worn if you have an active lifestyle. 
  • Always ask about treatments and buy emeralds with grading reports

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