JADEITE MINERAL FACTS Nevada Turquoise gem stones
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Jadeite Mineral Facts:

Chemical Formula: NaAlSi2O6
Sodium aluminum metasilicate.  May contain minor amounts of iron, chromium and other elements which serve as coloring agents. Forms in part the material known as jade and highly prized as an ornamental material.

Colors: White, Yellow, Various Green tones, Blue, Mauve violet, Grayish white.
The more brilliant green stones are due to the presence of areas containing chromium as a coloring agent.

Hardness: 6 to 7   

Density: 3.24 to 3.43

Cleavage: Good on (110)

Crystallography: Monoclinic
Commonly Jadeite occurs in fibrous, flaky and dense, finely granular masses
showing a compact structure. Prismatic crystals are rare.

Luster:. Glassy luster, inclining to pearly on cleavage surfaces.

Optics: (Refractive Index):  = 1.67
Most specimens are slightly translucent to opaque.

Jadeite, Republic of Myanmar (Burma)

Composition, Structure and Associated Minerals:
Jadeite is a silicate of sodium and aluminium, with sometimes a little iron. Like nephrite, it does not show crystalline form, being found in the form of tough, compact masses of interlacing
crystalline fibers.
Jadeite is formed in metamorphic rocks under high pressure and relatively low temperature conditions.
In all of the well documented deposits, jadeitite appears to have formed in tectonic subduction zone fluids in association with serpentinite. Jadeitite is resistant to weathering, so boulders of jadeitite released from the serpentine-rich environments in which they formed are found in a variety of alluvial gravel environments.  Jadeite differs from spodumene in having sodium in place of lithium.

Identification and Diagnostics
Before the blowpipe jadeite fuses easily to a transparent, bubbly glass. This is important as it's easy fusibility as compared with nephrite is a useful and distinctive test. It is insoluble in ordinary acids. After fusion, however, it is easily decomposed by HC1 and sometimes by Na2CO3 . At high temperatures (225--235) it is also decomposed by water. Gives a strong yellow flame coloration due to sodium.

Occurrence, Localities and Origins:
The mineral is of great ethnological interest because so many ornaments were made of a rock composed mainly of jadeite by the ancient inhabitants of China, Mexico, South America and elsewhere. "Jade" ornaments, however, are not all made of jadeite, but in all instances their material resembles this mineral in color, structure and density. Many of them are made of fibrous amphiboles, some of which correspond to jadeite in composition. Most Jadeite jade, like nephrite jade is a mixture of minerals, and technically a rock.

Jadeite, Motagua Valley, Guatemala

Jadeite, Motagua Valley, Guatemala


It has long been known that Mesoamerican cultures produced jadeite objects, but for centuries the geologic source was unknown. In the latter part of the 20th century an in place jadeite deposit was found at the Motagua Valley in Guatemala. This jade, sometimes called "Olmec blue" is characterized by its deep blue-green, translucent hue with white flecking. The Motagua Valley is only being minimally exploited by native Guatemalans. Other Jadeite items were also found in Costa Rica and the source of these may be unknown.

The most important occurrence of jadeite is that near Tawmaw in the Myitkyina district of Upper
Myanmar (Burma), where the mineral occurs as a constituent of a dyke rock intrusive in serpentine, and is regarded as an alteration product of the sodium aluminium silicates, albite and nepheline. The alteration is attributed to thermodynamic metamorphism during subduction. Jadeite quarrying is an important industry in Upper Myanmar (Burma); the stone is quarried from the dyke as well as obtained in the form of boulders from the bed of the neighboring Uru river, and much of it is sent to China, where it is highly valued as an ornamental stone.
Another occurrence of jadeite is that near Gulbashen, in the Karakash valley, in the
People's Republic of China, where the mineral is found associated with nephrite. Jadeite is often confused with nephrite, but is readily distinguished from the latter by its easier fusibility, its higher specific gravity, and its rather greater hardness. Currently, the best known sources of gem quality jadeite In North America are California, British Columbia, Alaska, and more recently Guatemala, Central America; other localities of jadeite Around the world include Kazakhstan, Russia, Myanmar (Burma), New Zealand, Italy and China.

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Please note that the author, Chris Ralph, retains all copyrights to this entire document and it may not be reproduced, quoted or copied without permission.

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