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Jade is among the most beautiful gemstones in the world. You can find it in several states of the U.S. Catalogued as an ornamental mineral. The term “jade” is used for two different minerals, namely nephrite, and jadeite. Nephrite is the jade most commonly found by rockhounds, having that beautiful light green color. Still, jadeite is the more expensive and rarer mineral.
Both jadeite and nephrite can be found in the U.S., mainly in the western states or California. Jadeite specimens form deep within the earth due to subduction. Geologic locations where tectonic plates meet result in jadeite deposits, and tectonic activity is also responsible for bringing them up.
Let’s see exactly the difference between jadeite and nephrite and where you can find these jade specimens across the U.S.!
If you are interested in checking out the best books about rock and minerals identification you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Where to Find Jade Near Me (Most Common Environments)
To find jade in the U.S., you must first understand how it forms. Jadeite is mainly located near major earth faults. When oceanic plates are pushed under continental plates, the high temperatures below dehydrate the rocks, which release aluminosilicate fluids that rise into the mantle.
Tectonic deformations result in small cracks where these aluminosilicate fluids may infiltrate. Due to the heavy pressure, jadeite crystalizes, and the remaining water forms serpentine around it. Where there is serpentine, jade may also be present.
Tectonic activity, such as earthquakes, brings the jadeite deposits below the surface, hence why they are found near faults. Nephrite doesn’t require the same pressure to form as jadeite. Nephrite forms at lower pressures and closer to the surface. You can find it in riverbeds or outcrops of older stone formations.
Generally, if you follow serpentine veins, especially near ridges, you may also have a high chance of finding nephrite as well. If you want to know whether you have discovered jadeite, nephrite, or serpentine, use a steel knife. You should be able to scratch serpentine, but not jadeite or nephrite.
Jadeite has a Mohs scale hardness of 6.5 to 7, whereas nephrite is 6 to 6.5. Although jadeite is tougher, you can also tell it is apart from nephrite due to its color.
It can be pale apple-green, white, pink, dark blue, and almost any other color of the rainbow. On the other hand, Nephrite ranges in color between white, cream, and dark green.
Lakes, Rivers, Stream Gravels, Washes, Draws, Creeks
You can find both nephrite and jadeite specimens in lakes, rivers, stream gravels, washes, draws, and creeks. Such areas that were previously subjected to earthquakes are more favorable to yield specimens.
If not, the water will undoubtedly carry jade pebbles from one area to another. Jade pebbles are somewhat sticky underwater, and you may spot them due to their greenish color. If you spot serpentine in your adventures, be sure to do a hardness test on it, and keep on searching!
Ocean beaches are also an excellent spot to find both jadeite and nephrite specimens, but the competition is usually challenging. Try to find unexplored gravels on remote beaches or go early in the morning.
Mines and Fee-to-Dig Sites
Nephrite occurs at a depth of 60 miles / 100 kilometers underground, whereas jadeite is several times below. These jade deposits are brought up closer to the surface during tectonic activities, especially near faults.
In many instances, your best bet to find jade specimens is in mines. Research your local areas and see which mines found jade specimens. In many cases, you may have to pay a small fee to enter them. Make sure you have the authorization and proper equipment.
Outcrops of old rocks are some of the best places to find jade specimens, as they were brought up from below due to tectonic activities. If you have such areas in your vicinity, get your backpack and start searching!
Remote areas are also an excellent place to find jade specimens. However, they are dangerous, and you shouldn’t proceed alone and without the proper equipment or permits if required.
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 how to spot dyed jade minerals in the article below:
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Tell & Identify if Jade is Dyed
Where to Find Jade in the U.S.? The Best Locations
There are various gemstones that you can find in the U.S., but when it comes to nephrite and jadeite, things are a bit mixed. Some of the best places to find jade are usually the western states.
All the states near the Pacific Ocean are favorable when it comes to finding jade in the United States. Some of the best places you can find jade in the U.S. includes Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Wyoming, and North Carolina, or you can head to Canada or Mexico outside the U.S.
|Wyoming||Seminoe Reservoir, Warm Springs, Atlantic City|
|California||Paso Robles, Big Sur, Eel River|
Over the years, many instances of jade findings also appeared in other states. However, let’s focus on some of the best states to find jade and see exactly where you should head to!
Wyoming Jade Spots
In the state of Wyoming, you can find both nephrite jade and jadeite jade. In fact, Wyoming’s official state gemstone is nephrite jade, since 1967. In the western parts of Wyoming, you can find jade specimens in Atlantic City, namely the area stream gravels, draws, outcrops, and other formations.
You can also head to Fremont County to find jade in the washes and draws in the southeastern corners. If you are near Warm Springs, beautiful nephrite jade specimens can be found in the area draws and hills over an extended area.
If you are in Eastern Wyoming, you should head towards the Seminoe Reservoir. There, you can find various jade specimens in all the area draws and washes.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Wyoming, check out this article.
Finding Jade in California
Probably the best state in the U.S. to find jadeite or nephrite specimens is California. In Northern California, you can find jade in Eureka, at the gravels in the Trinity River near Willow Creek.
In Siskiyou County, the area of jade mines north of Happy Camp is excellent to find some rarer types of jade. Here you can find even gold-laced jade specimens. Trinity County is also a hot spot for jade collectors. There, the gravels along the Trinity River are filled with jade pebbles.
However, Mendocino County is the best region in Northern California to find jade. The gravels along the Eel River are filled with jadeite specimens. The general area around Leech Lake is also worth exploring, and so are the boulders in north-Fork Eel River. Here, you can also find nephrite.
If you are in California, the central regions and the Bay Area are also worth a shot. For example, you can head to Mariposa County, about 2.5 miles northeast of Bagby, to find jade.
Monterey County is also a fantastic place to find jade. Head to the Big Sur area, and search for them in the stream gravels. The ocean beach gravels near San Simeon Creek are also worth exploring.
Also, in Monterey County, you can go to the beaches near the mouth of Limekiln Creek or south of the mouth of Willow Creek to find superb jade specimens.
In Southern California, you can find jade specimens in San Luis Obispo County. There, head to Paso Robles and search the area creek gravels for jadeite specimens. In gravel, Californian jade can also be found on the ocean beaches.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in California, check out this article.
Jade Rockhounding Spots in Alaska
Alaska is another excellent state to find jade specimens. Its official state gemstone is also nephrite jade since 1968. Northwest Alaska is probably the best place to start searching. You can find nephrite jade at Jade Creek, the general area.
If you are near Shungnak, you should also search the general area for nephrite specimens. The Jade Mountains are famous since all of its creeks and gravels are filled with gem-quality nephrite specimens.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Alaska, check out this article.
TIP: Jade is the most valuable gemstone in Asian culture. Find out how valuable jade can be in the article below:
6 Factors Why Jade is Valuable (+ Prices for Colors & More)
FAQ About Finding Jade Mineral
Still did not find the answer to your questions about finding jade mineral? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
Can Jade be Found Anywhere?
Nephrite jade is more common than jadeite. Jade can be found in several areas worldwide, such as the U.S., Russia, China, New Zeeland, Guatemala, Canada, Myanmar, the Swiss Alps, Mexico, and other countries. However, jade, in general, isn’t found all over the world.
What Rock is Jade Found in?
Jade is primarily found in metamorphic rocks. Both nephrite and jadeite specimens form in metamorphic rocks are depth levels and under high pressure.
Nephrite, for example, occurs 60 miles / 100 kilometers below the surface. Jadeite occurs far lower. Deposits of jade occur near or along faults in serpentinites.
What Country is Known for Jade?
China is mainly associated with the beautiful green gemstone. However, Myanmar is now the most famous country due to its jade deposits. About 70% of the world’s supply of high-quality jade jadeite comes from Myanmar. Most of these gemstones are deposited in Asian countries.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Since ancient times jade has been associated with various spiritual meanings and symbols. It was used by humanity before the invention of writing. Though some areas in the world are becoming poorer in their jade deposits, others are found and taking their place.
In the U.S., jade deposits are often discovered by mistake or sheer luck. If you want to find jade, be sure to check the places mentioned above and insist wherever you find serpentine. Happy hunting!
TIP: Because of jade’s popularity, there is a list of other minerals and materials like glass and plastic to fake natural jade. Check out how to spot fake jade in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Jade: Fucus on These Crucial 5 Differences