Jade is a very sought-after gemstone that holds great cultural and historical significance. The high demand for jade stones has made some dubious jewelers try to pass off fake stones as jade.
Methods of Checking Real Jade
You can tell the difference between real and fake jade in certain practical ways.
Check the Appearance
The appearance of high-quality jade is never dull or opaque, regardless of its color. Expensive jade stone always has a vivid appearance; it reflects light like water. However, some cheap jade stones might have that dull look.
Under magnification, you will also observe dye concentration in some fake jade stones. The coloration pattern of dyed jade can look similar to the zoning of real jade. However, real jade doesn’t have these concentrations of colorant between mineral grains.
Check for Impurities/Inclusions
All natural gemstones have imperfections (also known as inclusions). These inclusions are the result of the natural formation process of the gemstone. Using a jeweler’s magnifying loupe, you can check for the inclusions in a stone.
The inclusions in a jade stone usually appear like thin vein-like fibers. Original jade stones don’t have bubbles; these air bubbles indicate a glass or plastic lookalike.
Check The Density
The density of jade stone is 3.3 for jadeite and 2.95 for nephrite. All materials on earth have a unique density, and you can distinguish the authenticity of your stone by measuring this density.
You only need two pieces of equipment to check the stone’s density:
- Electric scale that measures in grams
- Water container that measures in milliliters
The steps to take are as follows:
Step 1 — Pour some water into the container and record it.
Step 2 — Measure and record the stone’s weight.
Step 3 — Place the stone into the water container, carefully avoiding spills. Record the new water level when it fully settles.
Step 4 — Minus the previous water quantity from the new one.
Step 5 — Divide the stone’s weight by your result from above— that’s the density of the stone.
In summary, the formula for density measurement is as follows:
Stone Weight / (New Water Quantity – Old Water Quantity). Your stone is likely a real jade If your answer is either 3.3 or 2.95.
The Sound Test
You can test if your stone is real jade by listening to its sound. This test will require you to have a genuine jade piece and compare the sound of both stones when you tap them.
To perform this test, gently tap your original jade piece with a metallic object and observe the sound. Next, do the same for the piece you’re trying to test; they should sound identical.
Original jade stone usually has a deeply resonant and muted sound. Lighter materials like glass or plastic produce an echo or hollow sound.
An object’s hardness is its resistance to scratching, and the scratch tests your stone’s hardness. The Mohs scale grades various things according to how easily you can scratch them, from 1-10 (10 is the maximum). On this scale, jadeite is 6.5 to 7, and nephrite is 6 to 6.5, so softer materials cannot scratch them.
Some items you can perform the scratch test with include the following:
- Fingernail (hardness — 2.5)
- Copper penny (hardness — 3)
- Glass plate or steel knife (hardness — 5.5)
Scratch your stone in a hidden place using any of these objects. Your stone is fake if you see any scratch marks on it afterward.
The Heat Test
Real jade has a naturally cool temperature, regardless of its environment. It takes continuous exposure to high temperatures to get warm, and it will cool down rapidly.
You can perform the heat test by feeling the stone’s temperature in your palm; it should feel cold initially. Rub it between your palms for a few seconds and put it down. It should feel cold to touch when you pick it up in a few seconds.
This test can be tricky as environmental factors, and your body temperature can skew the results.
The fluorescence test checks how the stone reacts under ultraviolet light. Gemstones have varying fluorescence levels, and the inert nature of real jade means it isn’t fluorescent. However, some specimens of lavender jade have a weak glow.
To perform the fluorescence test, put your stone in a dark room and point the UV flashlight at the stone. The stone is likely real jade if it has no fluorescence. Impregnated and dyed low-quality grade glows under UV light; resins, plastic, and dyed glass also glow.
All the testing methods for real jade above are not foolproof, and you might make mistakes. The only sure way to test if your stone is real jade is to give it to a professional jeweler. Jewelers check your stone with specialized equipment that gives very accurate results.
The highest authority for certifying jade stones is National Gems & Jewelry Testing Company (NGTC). The NGTC is headquartered in Hongkong, and its jurisdiction over jade is similar to the GIA and diamond. The NGTC gives certificates for each tested gemstone that you can scan with a barcode and check online.