As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases with no additional costs for you.
Jade can occur in a surprisingly significant number of colors, not only green. Imperial green is one of the most sought-after color varieties of jade; however, some other color varieties are gaining popularity nowadays. For example, lavender and white jade, sometimes called white jade, are extremely popular among the young generation.
Jade comes in a range of colors. They vary from snow-white through light green to lush green and greenish-black. Another palette of jade is from light pink through saturated lavender hues and purple. Jade also occurs in warm shades: yellow, orange, and orangy red. The jade color pallet lacks blue hues.
Lavender and white-colored varieties of jade are gaining popularity and rivaling traditional green Imperial jade. Most people even believe that these unusual colors of jade are fakes, but they are definitely not. In this article, we will discuss why the same mineral (but technically a rock) has so many colors, and what are the color-causing agents.
If you are interested in checking out the best books about rock and minerals identification you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
What Color Should Jade be
There are no strict requirements for colors for jade to be. Every color variety of jade finds its connoisseur. Some jade varieties are more popular according to consumer demand; however, there are more factors than only a color that should be considered.
The most valuable jade color is a vibrant emerald-green color, often known as “Imperial jade.” It is a narrow range of colors for jade to be considered the most valuable: it is a vivid green hue with no hint of gray. It ranges from pure green to slightly bluish or somewhat yellowish green.
To understand the nature of color variations, there is a need to dive into the mineralogy and geological formation of the stone.
Even more, the mineralogy of jade is complex due to the stone’s thousands of years of history. The word jade, in fact, stands for two different minerals. They are jadeite and nephrite.
This confusion appeared because of the visual identity between the two species and the inability of people to distinguish them.
However, due to the mineralogy and later gemology development as a science, people discovered that historical jade objects can be made from two different minerals.
Jade is a metamorphic rock made up of tiny interlocking and fibrous mineral crystals of either jadeite – NaAlSi2O6 or nephrite – Ca2(Mg,Fe)5Si8O22(OH)2.
As you can see, minerals have different mineral compositions and require different geological conditions for their formation. So here, you may guess, the is an answer to different resulting colors of jade.
TIP: Jade is highly praised for its vivid green color, but sometimes the color is a result of dyeing. Check out the complete guide on spotting dyed jade in the article below:
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Tell & Identify if Jade is Dyed
How Many Colors of Jade Are There
There are around 15 main color varieties of jade; however, the natural palette is more comprehensive because of the combination of hues.
Jade comes in a wide range of attractive colors: any shades of green, yellow, reddish-orange, white, gray, black, brown, and lavender (from light pink to purple color).
What are the Natural Colors of Jade
As we already know, jade can be represented by jadeite or nephrite minerals; hence the color palette for each species is slightly different.
For example, Jadeite jade can occur in many shades of green, yellow, and reddish-orange, plus white, gray, black, brown, and lavender (often a light purple or light grayish-violet color). On the other hand, Nephrite jade occurs mainly in light to dark green, yellow, brown, black, gray, or white colors.
Natural colors of jade are any hues of green (from light green through emerald-green to almost black color). White, lavender, yellow, orange, red, purple, brown, gray, and black colors of jade are rare. However, still, they are also absolutely natural. The vibrant blue colors of jade are unnatural.
So bright untypical colors should not frighten you and be a signal of fakes.
White jade can have a translucent milky appearance. It can be represented by both jadeite and nephrite. Some best-quality natural white jade specimens are transparent and appear icy; because of this remarkable resemblance, transparent white jade is precious today.
White nephrite jade has another trade name – Mutton fat jade, which is also one of the most valuable color varieties of jade.
Natural yellow jade colors are usually with orange admixture. No lemon or acid variations can be observed in natural yellow jade.
It tends to be an opaque and, consequently, beautiful material for carving. Yellow color is mostly a result of iron oxides and hydroxide mineral impurities like magnetite or goethite.
The color of natural red jadeite jade is mostly orangy-red and never purple-red. Natural red jade is opaque and used chiefly for carvings. It also has very even textures without distinct veins, which may resemble coral.
TIP: Because of jade’s popularity, there is a list of other minerals and materials like glass and plastic to fake natural jade. Find out more in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Jade: Fucus on These Crucial 5 Differences
The colors of natural lavender jade can be described as light-pink, light purple, or light grayish violet. Natural lavender jadeite jade is always whitish. These hues are highly sought after, raveling the prices of the most expensive green jadeite jade.
The origin of unusual colors puzzled mineralogists for a long period of time. Traces of manganese and/or iron charge transfer creates magnificent hues of lavender jade.
Green jadeite has been Chinese culture’s most significant and cherished gemstone for thousands of years. The finest jadeite is considered almost transparent with vibrant emerald-green color—known as “Imperial jade.”
Such green jadeite with no hint of gray and yellow commands millions of dollars in the marketplace.
In most cases, natural black jade is represented by a nephrite rather than jadeite. It is commonly opaque and has a typical waxy luster. Graphite impurities are widely responsible for the gray and black color of jade. It is also a highly praised variety of jade gemstones.
Blue jade doesn’t have a distinct blue color like we used to see in lapis lazuli. The tone and saturation of blue jade are significantly lighter. It’s better to call it light blue with drops of a gray color.
TIP: The combination of jade’s history and magnificent appearance makes the stone so valuable and popular. Find out the complete guide on jade’s value in the article below:
6 Factors Why Jade is Valuable (+ Prices for Colors & More)
Why is Jade Different Colors
Jadeite comprises sodium, aluminum, and silicate ions arranged in a specific crystalline structure. It is considered allochromatic (transparent and colorless when pure) without any other impurities.
Jade occurs in different colors because of various admixtures. The green color of jade is created by chromium, the lavender color is raised from manganese impurities, yellow and orange varieties are created by the presence of iron oxides, black jade has graphite inclusions, and white jade has no impurities.
Various color-producing elements like iron, chromium, manganese, magnesium, vanadium, nickel, and titanium in different oxidation states and variable concentrations and combinations give rise to a rainbow of jadeite colors.
In addition, other minerals like iron oxides and graphite are responsible for the orange to red and black colors of jade, respectively. The white color of jade is typically caused by the absence of significant amounts of impurities in the crystal structure.
Here you can see a table of the most popular colors of jade and the corresponding color-producing element. Jade is subdivided into two groups: jadeite jade and nephrite jade, as color-creating processes are different in these two chemically different minerals.
|Type of Jade||Color||Element(s) Causing the Color and their oxidation state|
|Green||Chromium (Cr3+), iron (Fe2+, Fe3+), and/or titanium (Ti3+, Ti4+)|
|Lavender||Manganese (Mn2+, Mn3+) and/or iron Fe2+–O–Fe3+ intervalence charge transfer|
|White||Lack of significant impurities, light scattering fromfractures, |
openings on grain boundaries, tiny aqueous fluid inclusions,
and/or albite and analcime mineral impurities.
|Blue-green, bluish-black, |
|Iron (Fe2+, Fe3+)|
|Yellow/Orange||Iron (Fe2+, Fe3+) in form of hydrous iron oxides and/or chromium (Cr3+)|
|Red||Iron (Fe2+, Fe3+) hydrous iron oxides and/or chromium (Cr3+)|
|Green||Iron (Fe2+, Fe3+) and/or magnesium (Mg2+)|
|White||Lack of significant impurities|
|Yellow/Brown||Iron (Fe2+, Fe3+) and/or manganese (Mn2+, Mn3+) also in the form of oxide minerals|
|Black||Graphite (C ) or other impurities|
|Purple/Pink/Blue||Chromium (Cr3+), manganese (Mn2+, Mn3+), and/or titanium (Ti3+, Ti4+)|
TIP: Identifying real jade is challenging and requires professional gemologist help and state-of-the-art laboratory equipment in the case of expensive stones. Check out the complete guide in the article below:
Identifying Real Jade Mineral (Step-by-Step Guide)
Jade has numerous color varieties. Jade is commonly green of various tones and saturation, from light green to the most valuable emerald-green and dark green.
However, there are many other attractive jade hues. They are: white, pink, lavender, purple, yellow, orange, red, brown, gray, and black. Jade lacks blue varieties but rarely can occur in light-blue colors resembling blue ice.
Various chemical elements admixtures into jade crystal structure give rise to a rainbow of jade’s colors. Likewise, the presence of chemical or mineral impurities and, more importantly, their combinations and variation in concentration result in a rainbow of different shades.
- Chromium is responsible for the green color of jade.
- Manganese in various oxidation states creates pink, lavender, and purple hues.
- Divalent and trivalent iron and its various proportions can produce yellow, orange, reddish, and brownish jade varieties and rare light-blue colors.
- Impurities of graphite produce gray and black colors of jade.
- White jade generally lacks any elements, admixtures, or impurities.
- Various chemical elements like magnesium, vanadium, nickel, and titanium also create different shades of jade color.
TIP: Both jadeite and nephrite can be found in the U.S., mainly in the western states or California. Check out the best locations in the United States in the article below:
Where to Find Jade: 4 Best Locations Near Me (United States)